An Investigation of Disaster Preparedness through Community Perceptions in Hopkins, Belize

Authors: Rebecca Green*, , Giselle Mahung, University of Belize, Sara Peluso, University of Central Florida, Jeremiah-Anthony Righteous Rogers*, Louisiana State University, Karla Santiago Rivera*, University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez, Timothy Hawthorne, University of Central Florida, Hannah Torres, University of Central Florida, Christy Visaggi, Georgia State University
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Quantitative Methods
Keywords: participatory GIS, community mapping, flooding, citizen science
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: 8224, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

We contribute to the growing subfield of geographic research that applies community-based knowledge in flooding and disaster management, and present a case study in Hopkins, Belize, a coastal village prone to severe weather events and flooding. The research integrated qualitative and quantitative Participatory GIS methods, and challenged top-down research and disaster response models by incorporating local knowledge and creating free, open-source data. The research demonstrates the necessity of a community-centric approach to achieve effective flooding and disaster management response.

This research focused on identifying the main causes of flooding within the village and used sketch mapping to obtain community-based knowledge on drainage infrastructure, water flow and its accumulation, and members’ perceptions on emergency preparedness and their disaster management practices. Additionally, the team took visual assessments of the village’s structures and culverts, utilizing ESRI’s ArcCollector application to store the geographic data. The team used ArcMap to analyze the data and to generate maps displaying the findings.

The team’s initial findings demonstrate that the main contributors to flooding in the community are a lack of functional drainage infrastructure in conjunction with the rapid development within the village that has disrupted water flow over time. Local knowledge on flooding and disaster management has proven to be a reliable and invaluable resource which should be emphasized in future development, flood mitigation strategies, and emergency and disaster preparedness.

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