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College of Arts and Sciences

Social Vulnerability Metrics

Post-Audit of Social Vulnerability Metrics Supporting Disaster Recovery
Project Lead: Dr. Susan Cutter

Project Overview

South Carolina’s Action Plans for Recovery for the 2015 Floods (Presidential Disaster Declaration #4241), and 2016 Hurricane Matthew (Presidential Disaster Declaration #4286) used social vulnerability (as measured by the Social Vulnerability Index or SoVI) to identify the most impacted and most vulnerable areas from each disaster. Combining SoVI in census tracts with FEMA verified loss data in declared Individual Assistance (IA) designated counties highlighted the greatest need amongst the vulnerable populations that became high priority areas for HUD CDBG-DR recovery resources administered through SCDRO. Of particular interest are the HUD-identified most impacted and distressed (MID) counties in these two declarations. These nine counties include: Charleston, Clarendon, Dorchester, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Marion, Sumter, and Williamsburg. Also of interest are the seven HUD-identified non-MID counties in the same declarations: Berkeley, Calhoun, Colleton, Darlington, Dillon, Lee, and Orangeburg.  

The state received roughly $156.7 million in HUD recovery overall for the 2015 Floods, but SCDRO only oversaw $96.8 million within the state government area of responsibility. SCDRO has spent 96% of those funds, the majority in the MID counties. For the Hurricane Matthew Recovery, the state received $65.3 million with 99% of the funds expended, again, the majority in MID counties. 

The purpose of the project is to assess the validity of using SoVI for targeting areas for recovery resources based on those most in need. The project will examine the relationship between the initial selection of areas using SoVI and FEMA verified loss data and the outcomes as seen through completed projects.

Funding: South Carolina Office of Resilience (SCOR)

Publication: Blackwood, L. and S.L. Cutter, 2023.  The application of the Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI) for geo-targeting of post-disaster recovery resources, Intl. J. Disaster Risk Reduction 92: 103722.

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