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Vulnerability and resilience in two populations: 1. Human impact in Eastern NC following Hurricane Floyd 2. The Homeless Kelly Mahoney WAS-IS – 8/14/08.

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Presentation on theme: "Vulnerability and resilience in two populations: 1. Human impact in Eastern NC following Hurricane Floyd 2. The Homeless Kelly Mahoney WAS-IS – 8/14/08."— Presentation transcript:

1 Vulnerability and resilience in two populations: 1. Human impact in Eastern NC following Hurricane Floyd 2. The Homeless Kelly Mahoney WAS-IS – 8/14/08

2 Hurricane Floyd Personal experience: –September 1999 –Storm itself relatively minor in Raleigh; during landfall, helped take calls at emergency management’s makeshift headquarters downtown –Following storm, helped coordinate student relief effort on campus; also worked with abandoned pets at NCSU vet school –May 2000: week-long “Learning Laboratory” to observe storm’s effect on people, families, homes, universities, agriculture

3 Hurricane Floyd Quick details –September 14 – 18, 1999 –57 deaths directly attributed to Floyd 48 in inland (freshwater) drowning 55% of deaths vehicle-related; 80% male –Damage estimates ~ $6 billion. –Specifically in North Carolina: 35 deaths 7,000 homes destroyed; 17,000 homes uninhabitable; 56,000 homes damaged Most roads east of I-95 flooded; 1500+ people rescued from flooded areas; 500,000+ without electricity; 10,000+ in temporary shelters; severe agricultural damage (hogs, crops); environmental hazards (hog waste, sewage). –"Nothing since the Civil War has been as destructive to families here…The recovery process will be much longer than the water-going- down process." - H. David Bruton, Secretary of Health and Human Services

4 Hurricane Floyd Extent of flooding: “Normal” (pre-Floyd)Two weeks after Floyd

5 Hurricane Floyd: Vulnerability Physical vulnerability due to location (flood plain), topography; social vulnerability Rural, low-income communities in low-lying, flood-plain areas hit hardest –Less than 5% of homes damaged/destroyed had flood insurance Eastern NC: –Most politically-marginalized region in state (Leubke 1998; Edwards and Ladd 2001) –Home to 30% of NC population but 42% of state’s poor; poverty rates exceed 20% –Socioeconomic inequalities persist: 53% of NC’s African Americans live in poverty here Median household incomes among whites more than double that of black households

6 Hurricane Floyd: Vulnerability 10,000+ mobile- and low-income-household homes abandoned and never repaired; 30% of people reported receiving “no assistance with necessary repairs” (Van Willigen et al. 2005) Differential impacts: –Higher-income households less severely affected, yet were provided more financial assistance/aid recovery than lower-income households –African American households typically two times more likely than whites to have evacuated, suffered damages to their homes, and experienced loss of personal property

7 Hurricane Floyd: Vulnerability and resilience Additional impacts on specific populations/communities: –Physically disabled additionally vulnerable (Van Willigen et al. 2002) Households with disabled member more likely to have home damages Damage costs a greater proportion of incomes of households with a disabled member. Households with physically disabled members less likely to evacuate: –Directly attributable to a lack of (or perceived lack of) access to services, assistance. –Students (at East Carolina University) found to be more resilient; university found to provide a “buffer” against storms lasting effects, economically and psychologically. Floyd introduced many of the same social inequality/vulnerability issues that would become obvious to rest of nation following Katrina in 2005 My personal lucky/privileged viewpoint: Response in Raleigh/surrounding suburbs would have likely been far different…hog waste issues alone would be an “emergency”…

8 Vulnerability of another specialized population: The Homeless

9 Experience/viewpoint: Heavily involved in homelessness aid, organizing, and activism 1999 – 2003 Obvious vulnerabilities of homeless population: –Temperature extremes: both heat and cold a problem Shelter Appropriate clothing –Severe weather Forecasts/communication/prepa redness Shelter

10 Vulnerability of a special population: The Homeless Specific concerns and vulnerabilities: –Shelter availability policies Temperature cut-offs vs. subjective measures of “cold” Individual screening (for drugs, alcohol)) –Shelter shortages Even with overflow shelters, often not enough Adequate warning time necessary to mobilize/open/staff overflow shelters –Information distribution How to best communicate risk and warnings, options for assistance? Issues of trust of information/aid-providers –Potential for individual’s refusal of shelter system Shelters replete with problems How then to avoid dangers (e.g., hypothermia, death)? Drugs and alcohol: users not admitted to shelters; weather extremes may increase alcohol-related risks –Mental illness: may be an obstacle to adequate communication/individual action Resiliency: Possibility that homeless may actually be more resilient in certain types of natural disasters?

11 Vulnerability of a special population: The Homeless No easy answers! The homeless are so marginalized that the effects of weather and weather disasters on this population is not at all well understood Transience and trust can be problems in certain types social science studies requiring individual tracking and feedback Much room for future research!

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