John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Population vulnerability to storm surge flooding in coastal Virginia, U.S.A.

This study aims to assess the vulnerability of populations to storm surge flooding in 12 coastal localities of Virginia, U.S.A. Population vulnerability is assessed by way of three physical factors (elevation, slope, and storm surge category), three built‐up components (road availability, access to hospitals, and access to shelters), and three household conditions (storm preparedness, financial constraints to recover from severe weather events, and health fragility). Fuzzy analysis is used to generate maps illustrating variation in several types of population vulnerability across the region. When considering physical factors and household conditions, the most vulnerable neighborhoods to sea level rise and storm surge flooding are largely found in urban areas. However, when considering access to critical infrastructure, we find rural residents to be more vulnerable than non‐rural residents. These detailed assessments can inform both local and state governments in catastrophic planning. In addition, the methodology may be generalized to assess vulnerability in other coastal corridors and communities. The originality is highlighted by evaluating socioeconomic conditions at refined scale, incorporating a broader range of human perceptions and predispositions, and employing a geoinformatics approach combining physical, built‐up and socioeconomic conditions for population vulnerability assessment. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

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