An index of relative displacement risk to hurricanes


Journal Article


Esnard, A.
Sapat, A.
Mitsova, D.


An index of relative displacement risk to hurricanes




Natural Hazards

Vol (No), pp

59(2), 833-859


Indicator and index-building activities have become commonplace for assessing and estimating social, environmental, and economic strengths and vulnerabilities of communities, regions and even countries. In the context of disasters, much of the empirical research has focused on identifying places and populations that are vulnerable to catastrophic hurricane and flood disasters. However, there have not been parallel efforts to capture measures for displacement risk. This article seeks to fill this gap by focusing on (1) a preliminary conceptualization of displacement risk; (2) a set of related indicators and measures at various scales, including indicators tapping policy capacity and commitment; and (3) development of an operational displacement risk index (DRI) and results for a snapshot year of 2007. The study area, 158 counties in the United States, was the coastal portion (an area two counties “deep”) of eight states. Findings suggest that the mean levels of DRI scores were much higher for coastal counties. Clusters of the highest DRI scores are particularly evident for coastal counties of Florida, especially the South Florida counties of Miami Dade, Monroe, Palm Beach, and Broward. Florida also scores high in terms of the top ten most vulnerable counties (i.e., 7 of the top 10) as well as exposure to hurricanes (i.e., 6 of the top 10 counties with the highest probability of hurricane strikes). Despite the limitations explained in the paper, we hope that the creation of the DRI has helped to fill a gap in knowledge and will lead to higher level theoretical and research discussions on the population displacement phenomenon, its determinants and planning and policy interventions.


Esnard, A., Sapat, A., & Mitsova, D. (2011). An index of relative displacement risk to hurricanes. Natural Hazards, 59(2), 833-859. URL :