Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An examination of hurricane vulnerability of the U.S. northeast and mid-Atlantic region
by Prasad, Shivangi, Ph.D., Florida Atlantic University, 2013, 179; 3571436
Abstract (Summary)

Northeastern and mid-Atlantic United States are understudied from the perspective of hurricane vulnerability. In an attempt to fill this gap in research, this dissertation attempted to assess the hurricane vulnerability of the northeastern and mid-Atlantic United States through the construction of a Composite Hurricane Vulnerability Index (CHVI) for 184 counties extending from Maine to Virginia. The CHVI was computed by incorporating indicators of human vulnerability and physical exposure. Human vulnerability was derived from demographic, social and economic characteristics whereas physical exposure was based on attributes of the natural and built up environments. The spatial distribution of the CHVI and its component indices were examined and analyzed to meet the research goals, which were a) to develop indices of human vulnerability, physical exposure and composite hurricane vulnerability for all counties; b) to assess vulnerability distribution in terms of population size, metropolitan status (metropolitan versus non metropolitan counties) and location (coastal versus inland counties); c) to identify the specific underlying causes of vulnerability; d) to identify the significant clusters and outliers of high vulnerability; and e) to examine overlaps between high human vulnerability and high physical exposure in the region.

Results indicated high overall vulnerability for counties that were metropolitan and / or coastal. Vulnerability was high at both ends of the population continuum. Coastal areas had high natural exposure whereas metropolitan areas had high built exposure. In large metropolitan counties, human vulnerability was influenced most strongly by economic vulnerability. In non-metropolitan and small metropolitan counties, vulnerability was an outcome of a combination of demographic, social and economic factors. Vulnerability clusters and intersections pointed towards high vulnerability in the major cities along the northeastern megalopolis, in the Hampton Roads section of Virginia and in parts of Delmarva Peninsula.

Research findings have important implications for disaster management. Evidence of relationship of population size, metropolitan status and location with vulnerability levels provides a new perspective to vulnerability assessment. Identification of high vulnerability counties can lead to effective resource allocation and emergency management and mitigation plans. Detection of dominant underlying causes of vulnerability can help develop targeted strategies for vulnerability reduction.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Esnard, Ann-Margaret
Commitee: Ivy, Russell, Mitsova, Diana, Roberts, Charles
School: Florida Atlantic University
Department: Geosciences
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-B 74/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Physical geography, Geographic information science, Meteorology
Keywords: Disaster management, Hurricane vulnerability, Hurricanes, Mid-Atlantic coast, Natural disasters, Northeastern United States
Publication Number: 3571436
ISBN: 978-1-303-22808-7
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