Examining the vulnerability of communities and residents in the Houston metropolitan statistical area with special attention to Hurricane Harvey

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2018-05-03

Authors

Castles, Katherine Lacey

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Abstract

In addition to the hazards posed by the physical landscape, social factors and systems affect the vulnerability of communities and their residents to natural disasters. Such demographic and socio-economic factors influence the ability of individuals and families to anticipate, prepare, and recover from disasters. The region around Houston, TX and its increasing propensity to flood acts as a case study. This report describes the various measures of social vulnerability and illustrates their spatial pattern in the Greater Houston region, and compares it with the distribution of damages from the recent disaster of 2017, Hurricane Harvey. While findings supported a concentration of social vulnerability in the inner city, these households seemed to be negatively correlated with damage calculations. However, these results are not conclusive as this report was forced to use limited datasets; better and more complete information would improve the analysis. This report emphasizes the importance of spatial analyses of social vulnerability in emergency management, disaster response, and resilience planning efforts to support the recovery and improvement of the Houston region in the years after Harvey.

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