Hurricane Sandy put the exclamation point on the need for our disaster preparedness messages to be changed to reflect the reality of how long it might take for a disaster relief services and supplies to reach individual residents of our communities. See ‘We Need Food, We Need Clothing’: Staten Island Residents Plead for Help 3 Days After Sandy
Years and years of drilling into people's heads that they have to be prepared to be on their own for 72 hours or three days has provided a negative learning experience. When bad really is bad, three days is not enough. Here on the West Coast which is earthquake country a week is the minimum that I'd recommend. There is no time to pre-assemble disaster supplies. These are "come as you are" disasters with no warning whats-so-ever.
So what are you doing and what will your messages be in the future? We need the American Red Cross and FEMA to help lead the charge on changing the messaging. And, no I do not believe that telling people the truth about what they need to do will discourage them from becoming prepared. If we hide behind the concept that "we can't ask them to do too much" we are only lying to them and to the elected officials we are supposed to be advising.
When people choose not to become prepared and they are caught flatfooted by a disaster they will still blame the government, since it is always someone else's fault. But we will know we did our duty to the best of our ability.