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Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management

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A Social Vulnerability Index for Disaster Management

Barry E. Flanagan1 / Edward W. Gregory2 / Elaine J Hallisey3 / Janet L. Heitgerd4 / Brian Lewis5

1CDC/ATSDR

2CDC/ATSDR

3CDC/ATSDR

4CDC/NCHHSTP

5CDC/ATSDR

Citation Information: Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Volume 8, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 1547-7355, DOI: 10.2202/1547-7355.1792, January 2011

Publication History

Published Online:
2011-01-05

Social vulnerability refers to the socioeconomic and demographic factors that affect the resilience of communities. Studies have shown that in disaster events the socially vulnerable are more likely to be adversely affected, i.e. they are less likely to recover and more likely to die. Effectively addressing social vulnerability decreases both human suffering and the economic loss related to providing social services and public assistance after a disaster. This paper describes the development of a social vulnerability index (SVI), from 15 census variables at the census tract level, for use in emergency management. It also examines the potential value of the SVI by exploring the impact of Hurricane Katrina on local populations.

Keywords: social vulnerability; Hurricane Katrina

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