5241.0: Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 5:10 PM

Abstract #11489

Estimating disparity in disaster exposure: using geographic information system (GIS) technology and best available data for Pitt County, North Carolina

Karen A. Mulcahy, PhD, Department of Geography, East Carolina University, Brewster A-234, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858, 252-328-6082, mulcahyk@mail.ecu.edu, James L. Wilson, PhD, North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, 1908 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1908, and Christopher J. Mansfield, PhD, Center for Health Services Research and Development, East Carolina University, Bldg. "N", Physicians Quadrangle, Greenville, NC 27858.

Background. This study examines racial disparity in disaster exposure. The flooding of Eastern North Carolina following Hurricane Floyd resulted in the loss of over fifty lives, destruction of over 6,000 homes, and displacement of over 50,000 people. A North Carolina state agency estimated that the proportion of African Americans living in the flooded area was 1/3 greater than the proportion of Whites. Further description and analysis of the population affected is needed. Method. We use GIS techniques with several levels of spatial and socio-demographic datasets to provide the best estimate of flood extent and its impact on the population in Pitt County, NC. The data used include satellite/aircraft imagery, special 1998 Census data, housing inspections, condemnation notices, FEMA claims, and school attendance records. We then calculate and map the racial disparity in disaster exposure. Results. Using GIS methodology reveals problems with spatial and temporal data important in describing disaster effects. In this study, record keeping and reporting policies of agencies participating in disaster response, recovery and mitigation are examined and critiqued. Racial disparity in flood exposure is evident, which suggests that environmental justice is an important facet of natural disasters. Conclusions. GIS is a useful tool for the description, management, and monitoring of disasters and their impact on populations. Record keeping and reporting policies of agencies participating in disaster response, recovery and mitigation are barriers to epidemiologic and social science research. Suggestions for better data collection are offered.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant (learner) will be able to: 1) Describe the many uses and potential of GIS in disaster research related to recovery and mitigation. 2) Analyze and discuss how disasters affect populations differentially on a socio-demographic basis. 3) Identify and analyze how record keeping and reporting policies of disaster response agencies inhibit epidemiologic investigation and social science research

Keywords: Disasters, Geographic Information Systems

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: Services of: Federal Emergency Management Agency. American Red Cross. Bureau of Census. North Carolina Department of Emergency Management. Pitt County, North Carolina. Products of Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA