Flood hazards and environmental justice in the Charlanta megaregion

Authors: Neil Debbage*, University of Georgia, J. Marshall Shepherd, University of Georgia
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: Urban Flooding, Environmental Justice, GIS, Charlanta, Urban Planning
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Napoleon B3, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Urban areas are particularly vulnerable to flood hazards due to physical processes, such as impervious surfaces altering the hydrologic response, as well as socio-economic pressures, which often increase the number of individuals residing in areas at risk for flooding. Environmental justice has been increasingly used in the literature as a framework to further address the socio-economic dimensions of this vulnerability by analyzing urban flood zone population characteristics and determining if marginalized groups are over-represented in such areas. However, the conclusions reached in these studies have been conflicting, as vulnerable populations appear to bear a disproportionate burden regarding flood risk in some regions when certain dasymetric mapping methodologies are used but not in other cases. This paper applies an environmental justice lens to better understand the urban flood zone population trends in the Charlanta megaregion. Specifically, US Census data, various dasymetric mapping techniques, and FEMA flood zones are utilized to characterize the at-risk population. The at-risk population is then compared to broader regional demographics to determine if environmental injustices are present. Results will be presented for discussion and evaluation. By investigating potential environmental justice issues related to urban flooding across multiple metropolitan areas, this study hopes to elucidate if such disparities are systemic or more localized in nature within the Southeastern United States. Additionally, an improved understanding of both the number and characteristics of urban flood zone residents will help tailor early warning systems and subsequent recovery efforts to best serve those that are most vulnerable.

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