Building community resilience in the face of climate disasters is critical to achieving a sustainable future. Operational approaches to resilience favor systems’ agile return to the status quo following a disruption. Here, we show that an overemphasis on recovery without accounting for transformation entrenches ‘resilience traps’–risk factors within a community that are predictive of recovery, but inhibit transformation. By quantifying resilience including both recovery and transformation, we identify risk factors which catalyze or inhibit transformation in a case study of community resilience in Florida during Hurricane Michael in 2018. We find that risk factors such as housing tenure, income inequality, and internet access have the capability to trigger transformation. Additionally, we find that 55% of key predictors of recovery are potential resilience traps, including factors related to poverty, ethnicity and mobility. Finally, we discuss maladaptation which could occur as a result of disaster policies which emphasize resilience traps.
While conceptual definitions provide a foundation for the study of disasters and their impacts, the challenge for researchers and practitioners alike has been to develop objective and rigorous measures of resilience that are generalizable and scalable, taking into account spatiotemporal dynamics in the response and recovery of localized communities. In this paper, we analyze mobility patterns of more than 800,000 anonymized mobile devices in Houston, Texas, representing approximately 35% of the local population, in response to Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Using changes in mobility behavior before, during, and after the disaster, we empirically define community resilience capacity as a function of the magnitude of impact and time-to-recovery. Overall, we find clear socioeconomic and racial disparities in resilience capacity and evacuation patterns. Our work provides new insight into the behavioral response to disasters and provides the basis for data-driven public sector decisions that prioritize the equitable allocation of resources to vulnerable neighborhoods.
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