An environmental justice examination of Hispanic immigrants' flood hazard exposure and vulnerability in the Miami and Houston metro areas

Alejandra Maldonado, University of Texas at El Paso

Abstract

Research reveals that disasters are particularly debilitating for racial/ethnic minorities. However, prior studies of racial/ethnic dimensions of disaster vulnerability have lumped people together in broad categories (e.g. Hispanic) without regard for substantial within-group heterogeneity. As a result, aspects of disaster vulnerability experienced by Hispanic immigrants (distinguished from US-born Hispanics) have been concealed. Using survey data from 1,283 adult householders in the Houston and Miami Metropolitan Statistical Areas and follow-up interview data from a subset of survey respondents, this thesis addresses that limitation by examining whether Hispanic immigrants experience heightened flood risk relative to other social groups. The thesis is comprised of two studies. The first study uses generalized estimating equations with binary logistic specifications adjusted for county-level clustering to clarify determinants of exposure to residential flood hazards among survey respondents. The second study uses a subset of survey and follow-up interview respondents residing in flood zones and employs mixed methods to analyze differences in self-protective action, risk perception, and hazard-specific knowledge between Hispanic immigrants, US-born Hispanics, and US-born non-Hispanic Whites. Results from the first study indicate Hispanic immigrants are significantly more likely to reside in 100-year flood zones in Houston and significantly less likely in Miami, compared to non-Hispanic Whites. Results from the second study indicate Hispanic immigrants experience greater flood hazards vulnerability in terms of significantly lower levels of self-protection and hazard-specific knowledge, despite their significantly higher levels of risk perception. Future research should move beyond the monolithic treatment of the US Hispanic/Latino population and assess contextual influences on risk disparities, while risk reduction programs should target the particular vulnerabilities of Hispanic immigrants. ^

Subject Area

Sociology|Hispanic American studies

Recommended Citation

Maldonado, Alejandra, "An environmental justice examination of Hispanic immigrants' flood hazard exposure and vulnerability in the Miami and Houston metro areas" (2016). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10151245.
http://digitalcommons.utep.edu/dissertations/AAI10151245

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