March 20, 2019 Feature

Low-Income Populations: Underrepresented Socially, Overrepresented as Victims of Natural Disasters

By Erin Capps, Jo Ann Howard, Chhunny Chhean, John Marshall, and Edward A. Thomas

Natural events do not discriminate; however, the impact of those events is overwhelmingly discriminatory. Floodwaters may swamp upper- and lower-income neighborhoods to similar extents, but community recovery proves an almost unmanageable struggle for families living paycheck to paycheck and without access to substantial savings, insurance, or retirement funds. In disaster after disaster, from Katrina to Sandy to Harvey and Maria, we find that our cities’ most vulnerable populations—poor, disabled, elderly, and immigrant individuals and families—are most affected by disaster events, but least able to recover without significant extra support.

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