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Students are spending time in SC talking to residents about their flood experience

Students are spending time in SC talking to residents about their flood experience

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A new EHD Bass Connections team has taken the ResearchMobile to South Carolina to collect data about residents' coping strategies, resilience, and learning in regions affected by recent floods. The team convened quickly to take advantage of the unusual data collection opportunity created by the nearby location of this tragic flooding. The team has traveled to Columbia and Lake Marion and is curently in Charleston.

Students have been trained in data collection techniques and went into the field to collect data. Team faculty and students are sharing lodging near each data collection site and collaborate in collecting data and discussing preliminary reactions while in the field. 

During the spring semester, the student researchers will—under the direction of the faculty—clean, prepare, and analyze the data, focusing on how respondents’ attributes, beliefs, and experiences shape their reactions to the flood and their views about flood preparedness.

View the video

Every year, floods inflict billions of dollars in damage, response, and recovery losses for U.S. communities; recent devastating floods include Superstorm Sandy, a 1,000-year flood event in the Front Range in Colorado, extreme flooding in Texas, and most recently across much of South Carolina. Globally, flooding is predicted to increase as our climate changes and communities continue to build in floodplains.

As populations increase in flood-prone areas, communities, households, and individuals are becoming increasingly vulnerable. Disadvantaged communities often bear a disproportionate burden of disaster, frequently worsening pre-existing inequities. To understand post-disaster resilience and the ways in which communities respond to such events, we must elucidate the dynamic interplay across individuals, households, and communities.

This project focuses on coping strategies, resilience, and learning in the aftermath of the recent South Carolina floods. It will use Duke’s ResearchMobile as both a physical base and a technological resource for data collection and will reach out to individuals and households in three distinct locations affected by the flooding — (1) Columbia; (2) the rural environs of Lake Marion; and (3) Charleston. The team will focus on both individual experiences and on the shared experiences of household members and collect data including:  

  • Quantified data about respondents’ experiences and perceptions of the flooding, their understanding of its causes and their awareness of and access to subsequent relief efforts
  • Measures of exposure to the flood and stress responses to the event
  • Video recordings of interviews in which respondents recall their experiences and reactions
  • Video recordings of parent-child conversations about their family’s experiences during and after the flood, with a focus on children’s autobiographical and event memory and caregiver reminiscing style

These data will help the team tease out the links between flood event exposure, cognitive processes related to the event (i.e., memory, stress), risk perceptions, behavior change, and policy preferences for flood recovery processes.


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