Rural Poll: Nebraska communities show characteristics of resilience

Rural Poll: Nebraska communities show characteristics of resilience

Most rural Nebraskans believe their community exemplifies characteristics of resilience, according to the 2020 Nebraska Rural Poll.

More than six in 10 Nebraskans who responded to the Rural Poll, which was sent to 7,000 rural households across the state in April 2020, said they agreed or strongly agreed with the following statements: People in my community help each other (82%); I believe in the ability of my community to overcome an emergency situation (76%); people in my community work together to improve the community (69%); I can depend on people in my community to come to my assistance in a crisis (68%); my community keeps people informed about issues that are relevant to them (65%); and there is trust among the residents of my community (63%).

However, rural Nebraskans were less likely to say their community treats everyone fairly, actively plans for disasters, trusts public officials, or looks at its successes and failures to learn from the past, according to Becky Vogt, survey research manager for the Rural Poll.

Community size played a role in some of these perceptions. Residents of larger communities were more likely to agree that their community looks at its successes and failures to learn from the past, keeps people informed about relevant issues, actively prepares for disasters, and trusts local leaders to respond to emergency situations. Those living in or near mid-sized communities (populations ranging from 500 to 9,999) were most likely to say their community has priorities and sets goals for the future.

Meanwhile, residents of smaller communities were more likely to report that they knew how to help solve major community problems. Just over half of those living in or near the smallest communities (populations under 500) agreed that they knew how to help solve major problems, compared to 37% of those living in or near communities with populations of 5,000 to 9,999.

These findings suggest that although larger communities appear to have more formal planning for emergencies, residents of smaller communities remain more confident of their ability to handle challenges, according to Brad Lubben, Extension associate professor and policy specialist at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

"While residents of the smallest communities lack existing plans, services or infrastructure of larger communities, they are ready to get the job done when something happens," Lubben said.