Social Inequities during a disaster

Harris County, including the City of Houston, is home to over 4.5 million people, and is one of the most diverse and faster growing counties in the United States. In the Houston area alone, over 145 languages are spoken and the county has a minority majority with Hispanics/Latinos making up over 40% of the population. The county is also a hub for the petroleum industry, boasts one of the busiest ports in the nation, and sits on the Gulf Coast where it is susceptible to a variety of natural disasters. Since 20015, the area has experienced two 100-year floods, Hurricane Harvey, three major fires at chemical plants, Hurricane Imelda, and COVID-19, in addition to the traditional water main breaks, etc.

Throughout all these events, it is important that messaging, as well as response and recovery activities include all segments of the population so that as a county community we are able to be resilient and recover more quickly and more efficiently. The key is to engage with diverse communities to prepare for emergencies, as well as to continue to cultivate and strengthen these ties during disasters. This workshop will explain how the community resilience team at Harris County Public Health works on engaging diverse communities to strengthen resilience and ensure equity before, during, and after disasters.