Quantifying Environmental Impacts of Temporary Housing at the Urban Scale: Intersection of Vulnerability and Post-Hurricane Relief in New Orleans
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Science. 2019, 10 (4), 478-492. 10.1007/s13753-019-00244-y
The increasing risk and exposure of people and assets to natural hazards and disasters suggests an increasing need for temporary housing following disasters. Resilience to natural hazards is dependent on the resources available to families or communities to prepare for and mitigate risk, influenced by social vulnerability. This study seeks to quantify the total environmental impact of temporary housing deployment in New Orleans, using the catastrophic impact of Hurricane Katrina in southern Louisiana in August 2005 as a case example. We employ a novel approach to estimate displacement period and take into account social vulnerability across New Orleans neighborhoods to better understand the scale of post-disaster relief and its global warming potential. The methodology implemented in this study comprises three steps: a risk assessment, a life cycle assessment, and a resulting total impact assessment. We demonstrate the considerable risk of greenhouse gas emissions and energy impacts from temporary housing deployment linked to hurricane hazard. Furthermore, we show that environmental impact is highly sensitive to displacement period and find the current methodology of anticipating temporary housing use by hazard alone to be inadequate. Additionally, the approach presented in this article provides tools to politicians and disaster risk professionals that allow for resource investment planning to decrease social vulnerability, thus enhancing resilience and adaptive capacity in a more homogeneous way at the urban scale.