The Impacts of Ecological Disasters on Social Mobility and Economic Security

Awarded Scholars:
Anna C. Rhodes, Rice University
Max Besbris, Rice University
Project Date:
May 2019
Award Amount:
$34,971

Low-income households and communities are typically more susceptible to the effects of disasters than are their middle-class counterparts. However, climate change is making weather-related events more severe, and disasters like the California wildfires and Hurricanes Sandy, Irma, Harvey, Michael, and Florence have significantly affected middle- and high-income households and communities. Since October 2017, sociologists Anna Rhodes and Max Besbris have conducted two waves of interviews with 59 flooded households in Friendswood, Texas, a suburban middle-class town where over 3,000 homes flooded during Hurricane Harvey. They will analyze the extent to which disasters impact middle-class households and neighborhoods and the extent to which differences in financial and social support increase inequality across affected households within middle-class communities post-disaster. They will also explore how flood victims make decisions about whether or not to return to their flooded homes, how and to what extent to reinvest in their property, and the sources of financial and social support they receive during recovery.

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