Study Looks Into Issues Affecting How Communities Bounce Back From Floods

How do economics, culture and geography affect a community’s ability to bounce back after a flood? A research program at Texas A&M University at Galveston will study how different communities react after a natural disaster. The focus will be on Galveston County, but the hope is that the entire Gulf Coast will benefit.

A fellowship from the National Academies Gulf Research Program will help fund research by Dr. Ashley Ross with Texas A&M’s Marine Sciences Department. She says the two-year study will look at the drivers of community resilience to natural disasters.

“What I study is disaster resilience from a public administration and policy perspective — how community organizations contribute to overall community resilience.”

Earlier research indicates that a person’s preparedness varies by their socio-economic status, as well as where they live.

“We know for example that low income households and those that are exposed to hazards to a higher degree are going to be those that have potential problems, right? So this is looking a little bit deeper into understanding how we can respond and recover from disasters.”

Dr. Ross suspects that economic, social and cultural issues also affect a person’s ability to recover after a flood.

“The way that people are attached to their residence, the resources that they have as a household, the capacity levels for mobility and for responding to a disaster.”

The idea is to pinpoint ways to improve emergency response to floods and other natural disasters.