Marine Planning
Practical Approaches to Ocean and Coastal Decision-Making

Assessing Hazards

There are a growing number of tools and approaches for addressing the risk and vulnerability associated with coastal hazards from storms. A risk and vulnerability assessment helps to identify people, property and resources that are at risk from injury, damage or loss from hazardous incidents or natural hazards. This information is important to help determine and prioritize the precautionary measures that can make a community more disaster-resistant.

Risk and Vulnerability

Risk areas identify those areas that are most likely to be affected by a given hazard. People and resources located within the risk areas are considered to be at risk from hazards and may or may not be vulnerable to hazard impacts.

The vulnerability of the people and resources within the risk areas is a function of the community's susceptibility to the hazard impacts.

Toolkit Case Study: Identification of Hazards

The cases in this toolkit are focused on hazards analysis identifying the risk and vulnerability of coastal communities in the panhandle of Florida. The first step toward narrowing the focus of a risk and vulnerability assessment involves determining which hazards to evaluate, as well as the areas potentially affected by those hazards. GIS data for risk and community vulnerability is from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA Coastal Risk Atlas.

These variables were assessed based on census block group boundaries with data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Only the most vulnerable communities on the coast were considered.

There are many other types of factors that could be considered in a vulnerability analysis including factors associated with the locations of critical facilities (hospitals and fire stations) or other economic factors such as the location of key businesses that provide taxes and jobs or facilities with potentially harmful chemicals.

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