Analysis of Flood Vulnerability and Transit Availability with a Changing Climate in Harris County, Texas
First Published April 22, 2019 Research Article
Hurricanes and other extreme precipitation events can have devastating effects on population and infrastructure that can create problems for emergency responses and evacuation. Projected climate change and associated global warming may lead to an increase in extreme weather events that results in greater inundation from storm surges or massive precipitation. For example, record flooding during Hurricane Katrina or, more recently, during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, led to many people being cut off from aid and unable to evacuate. This study focuses on the impact of severe weather under climate change for areas of Harris County, TX that are susceptible to flooding either by storm surge or extreme rainfall and evaluates the transit demand and availability in those areas. Future risk of flooding in Harris County was assessed by GIS mapping of the 100-year and 500-year FEMA floodplains and most extreme category 5 storm tide and global sea level rise. The flood maps have been overlaid with population demographics and transit accessibility to determine vulnerable populations in need of transit during a disaster. It was calculated that 70% of densely populated census block groups are located within the floodplains, including a disproportional amount of low-income block groups. The results also show a lack of transit availability in many areas susceptible to extreme storm surge exaggerated with sea level rise. Further study of these areas to improve transit infrastructure and evacuation strategies will improve the outcomes of extreme weather events in the future.