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An integrated social vulnerability assessment of riverine flood hazards in Shelby County, Tennessee

Clarke Shupe-Diggs (Department of City and Regional Planning, The University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee, USA)
Stephen Kofi Diko (Department of City and Regional Planning, The University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee, USA)
Charles A. Santo (Department of City and Regional Planning, The University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee, USA)

International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment

ISSN: 1759-5908

Article publication date: 28 September 2020

Issue publication date: 24 May 2021

128

Abstract

Purpose

Vulnerability studies are commonly used to inform planning, as cities and regions seek to build resilience to environmental hazards. In Shelby County, Tennessee, socioeconomic census tract data were mapped to identify the socially vulnerable population and places to underpin strategies in the Mid-South Regional Resilience Master Plan (RRMP). While this is an important step in identifying vulnerability in the county, this paper aims to enhance the local analysis through an integrated approach that considers both social factors and environmental hazards in assessing vulnerability.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper conducts a social vulnerability assessment by integrating a social vulnerability index with risk exposure analysis at the census tract level to identify the population and places vulnerable to riverine flooding in Shelby County.

Findings

The analysis reveals that social vulnerability assessments that do not relate socioeconomic factors to specific environmental hazards such as riverine flooding underestimate the population and places that are vulnerable. For Shelby County, this has the tendency to undermine the prioritization and effectiveness of strategies to build resilience to riverine flooding and can worsen preexisting marginalization.

Practical implications

This paper recommends integrated vulnerability assessments for each of the environmental hazards identified in the Mid-South RRMP to augment existing resilience efforts in the county.

Originality/value

This paper enhances the understanding of social vulnerability assessments by consolidating the need for integrated assessment frameworks as basis for resiliency planning.

Keywords

Citation

Shupe-Diggs, C., Diko, S.K. and Santo, C.A. (2021), "An integrated social vulnerability assessment of riverine flood hazards in Shelby County, Tennessee", International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 308-321. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJDRBE-06-2020-0061

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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