Incorporating Social Vulnerability into Damage Assessments

Chatham County, Georgia experienced significant damages in the wake of Hurricane Matthew in 2016. During the damage assessment process, it was hard to develop a common operating picture on the scope and severity of the event while so many areas of the County received significant damages. It was clear that the current damage assessment process was not feasible on a large scale, and the process had to be re-engineered in the middle of a disaster. An electronic method was developed, which became the platform for the process revision following the event. A social vulnerability analysis was conducted to prioritize damage assessment areas to ensure goods and services were able to get to those that need it the most. Less than a year after Hurricane Matthew, this process got put to the test during Hurricane Irma. In the first three days of damage assessments, over 77,000 structures were assessed via windshield assessments. This information was able to be shared with local, state and federal partners in real time, which led to a Presidential Disaster Declaration.