4C.5 Socio-economic vulnerability of African Americans to hurricanes in the Gulf States

Friday, 13 November 2009: 11:45 AM
Tanveerul Islam, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL; and A. Marshall, E. Johnson, and L. Robinson

Study shows that frequency of Atlantic hurricanes doubled during the last century. The States adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico i.e. Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are highly prone to coastal hazards such as hurricanes. According to the U.S. Census, a healthy proportion of African American population lives in these Southern States. African Americans living in coastal areas are usually the hardest hit during hurricanes. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina exposed the extent of poverty among African Americans in the Gulf States particularly in Louisiana and Mississippi. Studies found that most of the affected African Americans were low income, less educated, not married, older and home renters. All these factors have shown to be predictors of socio-economic vulnerability to natural disasters and hurricanes.

Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), this study analyzes and displays the distributions of age, income, education, and marital status of African Americans in the hurricane risk areas of these five Gulf States depicted in the NOAA's Coastal Risk Atlas (http://www.ncddc.noaa.gov/cra) and identifies areas where the most vulnerable population live. Finally, all the counties in hurricane risk areas are ranked according to their socio-economic vulnerability and recommendations are made to foster asset building and financial education in this region to reduce socio-economic vulnerability.

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