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07.08.2018 | Ausgabe 5/2018

Journal of Urban Health 5/2018

Public Housing on the Periphery: Vulnerable Residents and Depleted Resilience Reserves post-Hurricane Sandy

Journal of Urban Health > Ausgabe 5/2018
Diana Hernández, David Chang, Carole Hutchinson, Evanah Hill, Amenda Almonte, Rachel Burns, Peggy Shepard, Ingrid Gonzalez, Nora Reissig, David Evans


Hurricane Sandy was the greatest natural disaster to ever impact public housing residents in New York City. It affected approximately 80,000 residents in 400 buildings in 33 developments throughout the city. The storm left residents without power, heat, or running water, yet many chose not to evacuate. This qualitative study was conducted to understand the impact of Sandy among this socially, physically, and geographically vulnerable population. It is the first known study to examine the impact of disasters in high-rise, high-density public housing as a unique risk environment. Findings demonstrate (1) broad impacts to homes, health and access to resources, (2) complex evacuation decision-making, (3) varied sources of support in the response and recovery phases, and (4) lessons learned in preparedness. Results are contextualized within an original conceptual framework—“resilience reserve”—that explains the phenomenon of delayed recovery stemming from enactments of resilience to manage chronic hardship leaving vulnerable populations without the requisite capacity to take protective action when facing acute adversity. We discuss recommendations to establish and replenish the resilience reserve that include personal, institutional, and structural facets.

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