Individual and Household Responses to the October 2015 Floods in South Carolina (2015-2016)

Every year, floods inflict billions of dollars in damage, response and recovery losses for U.S. communities. Recent devastating floods include Superstorm Sandy, a thousand-year flood event in the Front Range in Colorado and extreme flooding in Texas and South Carolina. Globally, flooding is predicted to increase as our climate changes and communities continue to build in floodplains.

As populations increase in flood-prone areas, communities, households and individuals are becoming increasingly vulnerable. Disadvantaged communities often bear a disproportionate burden of disaster, frequently worsening preexisting inequities. To understand postdisaster resilience and the ways in which communities respond to such events, we must elucidate the dynamic interplay across individuals, households and communities.

This project team focused on coping strategies, resilience and learning in the aftermath of the October 2015 South Carolina floods. Team members used Duke’s ResearchMobile as a physical base and a technological resource for data collection while reaching out to individuals and households in three distinct locations affected by the flooding (Columbia; the rural environs of Lake Marion; and Charleston), which they visited during winter break.

Team members focused both on individual experiences and on the shared experiences of household members. They surveyed 120 residents and conducted 50 interviews. Each survey took 20 minutes on a laptop or tablet; some people wore BIOPAC heart monitors to measure stress levels. The team conducted follow-up surveys via email with people who agreed to provide their email addresses. These data will help tease out the links between flood event exposure, cognitive processes related to the event (e.g., memory, stress), risk perceptions, behavior change and policy preferences for flood recovery processes.


Winter break 2015-16 – Spring 2016

Team Outputs

Responses to the October 2015 Floods in South Carolina (poster by Alican Arcasoy, Anya Bali, Libby Dotson, Maya Durvasula, Connie Ma, Christopher Molthrop, Noah Triplett, Clara Wang, Elizabeth Albright, Alexandra Cooper)

EHDx Talks (presentation by Alican Arcasoy and Anya Bali at the Nasher Museum of Art, April 13, 2016)

This Team in the News

Hidden Hurricane Lessons for Policymakers

Betsy Albright Champions Smart Data Analysis

Six Students on Their Community-Engaged Research, from Bangalore to Durham

From Autism to Slums, Duke Students Tackle Challenges in Human Development

Human Responses to Floods (Elizabeth Albright and Alexandra Cooper, The Measure of Everyday Life, May 25, 2016)

Research on the ReMo

Duke Students Study SC Flood’s Impact

Student Researchers Head to South Carolina in Mobile Research Laboratory

Anya Bali, Class of ’19

See photos of this project team on Flickr

The students ran all the different parts of this. We had a lot of help from our faculty, but it was a very immersive experience in terms of getting to do all of the work on our own. —Anya Bali

Team Leaders

  • Elizabeth Albright, Nicholas School of the Environment-Environmental Sciences and Policy
  • Alexandra Cooper, Social Science Research Institute

/graduate Team Members

  • Austen Edwards, Masters of Public Policy
  • Yucong Ma, Masters of Public Policy

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Alican Arcasoy, Economics (BS), Political Science (AB2)
  • Anya Bali, Psychology (AB)
  • Mary (Libby) Dotson, Int Comparative Studies (AB), GCS in Literature Progrm (AB2)
  • Maya Durvasula, Economics (BS)
  • Christopher Molthrop, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • Noah Triplett, Psychology (AB), Global Health (AB2)
  • Clara Wang, Economics (BS)