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When It Rains, It Floods: A Socio-Spatial Flood Vulnerability Analysis of Alexandria, Virginia

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Abstract

Urban flooding is a pressing issue that impacts over 23% of the global population every year. As flooding is projected to worsen due to the results of climate change, cities are turning toward innovative solutions in hopes of mitigating the worst of the impacts on residents. However, previous research indicates project locations can be chosen based on exposure rates instead of a community’s capacity to recover from the impacts of flooding, privileging spatial vulnerability over socio-economic vulnerability. In studying the issue, this paper examines Alexandria, Virginia, where the City is using neighborhood complaint data to help guide the location of their flood improvement efforts to better protect residents from pluvial and riverine flooding. Utilizing a ten-variable socio-spatial index, this paper investigated whether the projects were being placed in areas most vulnerable to flooding; ultimately, it determined that the majority of flood improvement projects are located in areas that, while spatially vulnerable to flooding, are not socio-economically vulnerable to flooding. In addition, the complaint data itself is predominantly generated in wealthier, whiter communities, resulting in projects that may not be assisting residents who are most at risk from flooding.

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2023-05

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urban flooding; vulnerability; vulnerability analysis

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Government Document

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Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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dissertation or thesis

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