Assessing Community Vulnerability to Floods and Hurricanes along the U.S. Gulf Coast


Wanyun Shao  N. P. Jackson, H. Ha, T. Winemiller




Shao, W., N. P. Jackson, H. Ha, & T. Winemiller. 2019. Assessing community vulnerability to floods and hurricanes along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Disasters

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It is of significance to assess and depict community vulnerability to floods and hurricanes. Over the past several decades, flooding and hurricanes have affected millions of people and caused massive economic losses. Despite efforts to reduce risks, these natural hazards remain to be a considerable challenge to coastal communities. In this paper, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) methods are used to analyze coastal communities’ vulnerability to hurricanes and flooding along the U.S. Gulf Coast, which is prone to these two hazards. Specifically, two types of quantitative indicators are developed: exposure to hurricanes and flooding, based on data from multiple sources such as National Climate Data Center and National Flood Insurance Program among others, and a social vulnerability index, constructed on census data at the census tract level. These indices are combined to depict the spatial patterns of overall community vulnerability to flooding and hurricane hazards along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Results of this study can potentially inform disaster management agencies, county governments and municipalities of areas with heightened community vulnerabilities. The demonstration of geographic distribution of community vulnerability can assist decision-makers in prioritizing to‐do items and designing policies/plans for more effective allocation of resources. We end this paper by discussing the limitations to the present study and the practical implications of the assessment.