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Open AccessArticle

“We’re Just Sitting Ducks”: Recurrent Household Flooding as An Underreported Environmental Health Threat in Detroit’s Changing Climate

1
College of Education, Health, & Human Services, 19000 Hubbard Dr., Dearborn, MI 48126, USA
2
College of Arts, Sciences, & Letters, 4901 Evergreen Rd, Dearborn, MI 48128, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16010006
Received: 24 October 2018 / Revised: 13 December 2018 / Accepted: 16 December 2018 / Published: 20 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extreme Weather Events and Health)
Recurrent inland urban flooding is an understudied phenomenon that warrants greater attention, particularly in post-industrial cities where aging infrastructure, disinvestment, and climate change threaten public health. We conducted semi-structured interviews in 2017–2018 with 18 Detroit residents experiencing recurrent household flooding. We used standard qualitative coding analysis to generate 30 theoretically- and in vivo- derived themes related to flood experience, socioeconomic and health factors, and household, community, and policy interventions for reducing environmental exposures before, during, and after flood events. Snowball sampling yielded interviewees across both high- and low-risk areas for flood events, indicating vulnerability may be widespread and undocumented in formal ways. Residents described exposure to diverse risk factors for chronic and infectious diseases, particularly for seniors and young children, and emphasized stressors associated with repeated economic loss and uncertainty. Opinions varied on the adequacy, responsibility, and equity of local and federal relief funding and programs. We expand knowledge of flood-related vulnerability, offer innovative suggestions for risk communication based on residents’ experiences, and recommend additional research for documenting patterns of recurrent flooding and response, even for precipitation events that are not characterized as extreme or disaster-level in the media or by agencies. These findings should guide local public health, emergency preparedness, sustainability, water and sewage, and community leaders in post-industrial cities. View Full-Text
Keywords: flooding; water; infrastructure; climate change; vulnerability; risk communication; disinvestment flooding; water; infrastructure; climate change; vulnerability; risk communication; disinvestment
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Sampson, N.R.; Price, C.E.; Kassem, J.; Doan, J.; Hussein, J. “We’re Just Sitting Ducks”: Recurrent Household Flooding as An Underreported Environmental Health Threat in Detroit’s Changing Climate. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 6.

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