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Journal Article

Citation

Chakraborty J, Grineski SE, Collins TW. Soc. Sci. Med. 2019; 226: 176-181.

Affiliation

Department of Geography, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.

Copyright

(Copyright © 2019, Elsevier Publishing)

DOI

10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.02.039

PMID

30856606

Abstract

While numerous environmental justice (EJ) studies have found socially disadvantaged groups such as racial/ethnic minorities and low-income individuals to be disproportionately affected by environmental hazards, previous EJ research has not examined whether disabled individuals are disproportionately exposed to natural hazards. Our article addresses this gap by conducting the first distributive EJ study of the relationship between flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey and locations of people with disabilities in Harris County, the most populous county in Texas that was severely impacted by this disaster. Our objective is to determine whether the areal extent of flooding at the neighborhood (census tract) level is disproportionately distributed with respect to people with any disability and with specific types of disabilities, after controlling for relevant socio-demographic factors. Our study integrates cartographic information from Harvey's Inundation Footprint developed by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency with data on disability and socio-demographic characteristics from the 2012-2016 American Community Survey. Statistical analyses are based on bivariate correlations and multivariate generalized estimating equations, a modeling technique appropriate for clustered data.

RESULTS indicate that the areal extent of Harvey-induced flooding is significantly greater in neighborhoods with a higher proportion of disabled residents, after controlling for race/ethnicity, socioeconomic factors, and clustering. Disabled individuals with cognitive and ambulatory difficulties are more likely to reside in neighborhoods with a higher proportion of flooded area, compared to those facing other types of difficulties. These results represent an important starting point for more detailed investigation on the disproportionate impacts associated with Hurricane Harvey for people with disabilities. Our findings also highlight the growing need to consider individuals with physical and mental disabilities in future EJ research, as well as planning and management of natural disasters.

Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Language: en

Keywords

Disability; Environmental justice; Houston; Hurricane Harvey; Natural disaster

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