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Measuring participation by socially vulnerable groups in hazard mitigation planning, Bertie County, North Carolina

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In accordance with the Disaster Mitigation Act, most US counties have a hazard mitigation plan (HMP) to reduce future disaster losses. HMPs are important as they can be used to proactively assess risk, direct future development, raise awareness and build consensus. Using a population-based sample, we interviewed residents of Bertie County, NC, about their awareness of and participation in the HMP process to determine if demographics, social vulnerability or hazard vulnerability were associated with increased awareness or participation. We also assessed whether these factors were associated with knowledge of policy changes and investments that were adopted in the HMP. Overall, the unemployed were the only group less likely to report awareness of or participation in HMP development. African-Americans, mobile home residents, the poor, short-term residents and those with less disaster experience were less likely to be aware of policies and investments prioritised in the HMP. Targeted efforts to increase awareness could potentially improve disaster outcomes among vulnerable populations.
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Keywords: disaster; hazard mitigation; vulnerable populations

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Texas A&M School of Rural Public Health, TX, USA 2: NC Institute for Public Health, University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, NC, USA 3: Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, NC, USA 4: Institute for Sustainable Coastal Communities, Texas A&M University, TX, USA

Publication date: May 4, 2015

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