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Equitable Community Resilience: The Case of Winter Storm Uri in Texas

01/17/2022
by   Ali Nejat, et al.
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Community resilience in the face of natural hazards relies on a community's potential to bounce back. A failure to integrate equity into resilience considerations results in unequal recovery and disproportionate impacts on vulnerable populations, which has long been a concern in the United States. This research investigated aspects of equity related to community resilience in the aftermath of Winter Storm Uri in Texas which led to extended power outages for more than 4 million households. County level outage and recovery data was analyzed to explore potential significant links between various county attributes and their share of the outages during the recovery and restoration phases. Next, satellite imagery was used to examine data at a much higher geographical resolution focusing on census tracts in the city of Houston. The goal was to use computer vision to extract the extent of outages within census tracts and investigate their linkages to census tracts attributes. Results from various statistical procedures revealed statistically significant negative associations between counties' percentage of non-Hispanic whites and median household income with the ratio of outages. Additionally, at census tract level, variables including percentages of linguistically isolated population and public transport users exhibited positive associations with the group of census tracts that were affected by the outage as detected by computer vision analysis. Informed by these results, engineering solutions such as the applicability of grid modernization technologies, together with distributed and renewable energy resources, when controlled for the region's topographical characteristics, are proposed to enhance equitable power grid resiliency in the face of natural hazards.

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