Hurricane Season During a Pandemic: Changes in Disaster Response and Migrant Farmworkers in Hillsborough County, Florida

Authors: Samantha Proulx-Whitcomb*,
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: hurricanes, COVID-19, migrant farmworkers, pandemic
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 52
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Thousands of migrant farmworkers travel to and work in Hillsborough County, Florida every year and are disproportionately affected by both hurricanes and health crises like pandemics that affect the area. To better understand the impact the simultaneous hurricane season and COVID-19 pandemic would have on migrant farmworkers, I collected data through a Community Impact Assessment and interviews with local stakeholders. Due to a variety of obstacles such as limited access to personal transportation and health insurance, as well as crowded housing conditions, immigration status, and low wages, migrant farmworkers would likely face significant barriers to accessing hurricane response and preventative health care services. Through a thematic analysis of interview transcripts, it became clear that many agencies made significant changes to their hurricane preparedness plans for the 2020 hurricane season. However, they did not consider the unique needs of migrant farmworkers in their plans. As a result, I recommended that local agencies improve communications and inclusive policies to respond better to the needs of migrant farmworkers.

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