International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE)

Date of Award

5-2017

Degree Type

Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Development and Social Change (IDSC)

Department

International Development, Community and Environment

Chief Instructor

Dr. Cynthia Caron

Second Reader

Dr. Edward Carr

Abstract

This research project presents a resilience, governance, and vulnerability analysis of populations traditionally considered as non-vulnerable to natural disasters and climate related events. The paper examines how homeowners in Sea Gate, a neighborhood located on Coney Island, in Brooklyn, New York, experienced systemic disruption following Hurricane Sandy. This research sets out to answer the following questions: How does the lived experience of homeowners in a coastal community reflect the creation of newly vulnerable populations in regard to natural disasters in New York City? How is the current municipal resilience strategy being perceived as managing these shifts? And finally, what avenues does this discourse open to better prepare resilience strategists to accommodate the needs of citizens on the front lines of climate risk in a major city such as New York? Currently, resilience planning in New York City is focused on shoring up the region’s economic hotspots and areas of high urban activity, but vulnerable residential coastlines throughout the city are being left to fend for themselves under these present policy initiatives. Open-ended interviews were conducted with residential homeowners in Sea Gate who were adversely affected by Hurricane Sandy, i.e. experienced economic and property loss because of storm damage, to elucidate this dichotomy. The paper argues that the current state of perceived vulnerability exceeds both the historical governmental capacity for an organized response to future natural disasters following Hurricane Sandy and the perceived priorities of the municipal administration. Thus, the paper demonstrates that resilience planning is a political process and must consider the perspectives and needs of citizens in coastal communities to ensure more equitable and representative policies are enacted to protect such households from future damage due to institutional unpreparedness.

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