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Northwest Missouri State University

Library Home » Electronic Theses » Geographic Information Science » Daniel J. Cobb

Social Vulnerabilities to Storm Surge Flooding: A Case Study of Lee County, Florida

Author: Daniel J. Cobb
M.S. in Geographic Information Science
Department of Geology and Geography
November 2011
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Many U.S. coastal communities are greatly susceptible to unique location-based hazards from seasonal tropical cyclone events. These inevitable storms require local communities to prepare for and be capable to recover from the reality of powerful wind and water borne dangers. Local emergency management officials are responsible for accommodating the welfare of all jurisdictional residents whether permanent or temporary. Most residents have financial and other material resources to evacuate from an impending hurricane. While the majority of residents are independently capable of providing the means for safe transport out of harm's way, there exists a specific portion of the population who maintain an inability or a lesser ability to evacuate due to a lack of resources.

Pre-existing socioeconomic circumstances are exacerbated during and after a disaster incident. In order to adopt adequate disaster planning tools, it is necessary to understand these societal realities. The following research provides local insight about those members of the population who have pre-storm circumstances which contribute to the potential inability to exit their residence and into a proper shelter or other location before, during, and after a storm event.

This study was conducted at the county level, which is the first government body who maintains the most detailed and up-to-date planning tools for disaster preparedness. This research utilizes existing data and methodology from established disaster mitigation and vulnerability assessment scientists. Furthermore, this research utilizes current GIS technology to establish spatial weight intensities, perform vulnerability magnitude calculations, and provide high quality cartographic representation of research findings. Finally, this study presents a location-based conclusion for understanding the spatially sensitive areas in the county where socially vulnerable populations reside.