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Vulnerability of People and Places to Hurricane Impacts in the U. S. Gulf and Atlantic Coasts Since 1950

Authors: Gainbi Park*, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, Zengwang Xu, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Population Geography
Keywords: Natural Hazards, Risk, Hurricanes, Gulf Coast, Atlantic Coast, Population vulnerability
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Hurricanes have been one of the most devastating natural hazards to the Gulf and Atlantic coasts in the United States. In the foreseeable future, the frequency and intensity of hurricanes have no sign of abatement. Although the coastal areas are prone to damages from hurricanes and tropical storms, population along the coasts has been continuously increasing and has experienced tremendous demographic diversification over time. The vulnerable spatial location and volatile social change along the coasts compound the vulnerability of coastal populations and places to hurricane impacts. How does this severe hazard affect the coastal society in the long run? This is a pressing question for the coastal communities especially when they are at the forefront of global climate change and sea level rise. A study on long-term socio-demographic dynamics of coastal populations is a necessary first step towards fully understanding of their vulnerability. This study models the wind and storm surge damages of all storms that made landfall along the coasts over the study period to examine the spatial extent of the hurricane damages. It further explores the vulnerability of coastal populations shaped by their socio-demographic characteristics to reveal the differential impacts of hurricanes among different population groups. The population vulnerability profiles based on the longitudinal census dataset shed light on the changing pattern of the socially vulnerable population, and the geodemographic trajectories of hurricane at-risk zones over different spatial and temporal scales.

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