Analyzing U.S. fatalities from Superstorm Sandy using Socioeconomic and Exposure Metrics

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Thursday, 6 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Craig A. Ramseyer, University Of Georgia, Athens, GA; and Y. Wang, J. Vanexel, J. M. Shepherd, and J. A. Knox

Handout (4.6 MB)

This study analyzed a suite of socioeconomic and exposure metrics to determine the factors leading to fatalities during the U.S. landfall of Superstorm Sandy. For this study, fatality information was gathered primarily by the New York Times using death certificates and police reports, which resulted in a database of 105 Sandy-related fatalities with location information. Clustering analyses were performed on the fatality location data to determine spatial clustering of fatalities. Storm surge, precipitation, and wind reanalysis data were used to infer exposure at each death location. The fatality data were spatially joined to the census block group in which they occurred to allow for socioeconomic metrics to be analyzed for each death location. Social vulnerability was examined using a suite of potential socioeconomic indicators as well as the social vulnerability index (SOVI) for each census block group where deaths occurred. A principal component analysis was performed on the social vulnerability metrics at each fatality location to determine which metrics explained the most variance in the census block data where fatalities occurred.

Using the death location point data, this study finds that 68 of the 105 (65%) death locations were exposed to storm surge. The three most common causes of deaths were drowning (34%), tree fall related (20%), and non-tree fall related blunt force trauma (13%). The PCA results show that education, poverty, and age related variables were the most significant socioeconomic contributors.