Climate Change at the Coast: A Participatory Perspective on Public Health

Authors: Burrell Montz*, East Carolina University, Thomas R Allen, Old Dominion University, Thomas W Crawford, Virginia Tech
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: Climate Change, Health, GIS, Stakeholders
Session Type: Interactive Short Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Bayside B, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Coastal communities are increasingly vulnerable to flooding given the anticipated impacts of climate change, putting water infrastructure and community health services at risk, a difficult situation to evaluate given variable situations and vulnerabilities. To advance an integrated perspective on public health with climate change and promote preparedness and planning, two case studies were undertaken (Charleston, SC and Morehead City, NC), with stakeholders representing various community sectors including water supply, hospitals, and emergency management. An online geographic information system (GIS) was developed to integrate flood risk maps from multiple threats with water infrastructure and community hospitals, health services, and population exposure. Online interactive visualizations were used by participants in combination with matrix-based assessment tools. An original 2x2 Vulnerability Matrix was created to facilitate interpreting hazards using maps with scenarios of sea level rise or storm surge, overlain with critical infrastructure (hospitals, fire departments, schools, evacuation routes, etc.). Matrix columns were comprised of “Inundated / Not Inundated,” while the rows were labeled “Compromised / Not Compromised.” This provided a systematic means for participants to evaluate the vulnerability of various components of their sectors. A 4x4 matrix developed by the Army Corps of Engineers was used which incorporates the physical, informational, cognitive, and social components of communities with the phases of disaster cycle: preparedness, absorption, recovery, and adaptation. This participatory application of GIS with the collaborative risk assessment tools (the matrices) permitted stakeholders to understand better the susceptibility of their respective sectors under different climate change scenarios.

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