Changing Demographics and the Environmental Equity of Coastal Floodplain in Tampa, Florida

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A considerable amount of research in the United States (US) utilizes sociodemographic determinants of individuals or communities and investigates disparities associated with flood hazards from the environmental equity (EE) perspective. However, little is known about how sociodemographic changes influence the vulnerability of individuals living in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) designated flood zones to flood hazards and their impact on the improvement or decline in the EE situation. Our study addresses this literature gap by investigating the topic between 1996 and 2018 in the City of Tampa, a coastal city in Florida, using Geographical Information System (GIS) and statistical analyses. Findings suggest that the relationship between demographic characteristics and flood risk in Tampa is not time-invariant. Furthermore, the changes partially confirm our hypothesis of disproportionate distribution of individuals of certain social groups concerning age, ethnicity, and income in the high-risk flood zone and are more vulnerable to flooding. While the proportion of young children continues to be a significant predictor of flood risk in either period, the vulnerable relationships have shifted from lower per capita income groups to Hispanic groups over time. These changing relationships have important implications for EE research on flood hazards and related policy formulation and mitigation efforts.

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International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, v. 79, art. 103186