Flood Fatalities in the United States
Ashley, Walker S.
Ashley, Sharon T.
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This study compiles a nationwide database of flood fatalities for the contiguous United States from 1959 to 2005. Assembled data include the location of fatalities, age and gender of victims, activity and/or setting of fatalities, and the type of flood events responsible for each fatality report. Because of uncertainties in the number of flood deaths in Louisiana from Hurricane Katrina, these data are not included in the study. Analysis of these data reveals that a majority of fatalities are caused by flash floods. People between the ages of 10 and 29 and 60 yr of age are found to be more vulnerable to floods. Findings reveal that human behavior contributes to flood fatality occurrences. These results also suggest that future structural modifications of flood control designs (e.g., culverts and bridges) may not reduce the number of fatalities nationwide. Spatially, flood fatalities are distributed across the United States, with high-fatality regions observed along the northeast Interstate-95 corridor, the Ohio River valley, and near the Balcones Escarpment in south-central Texas. The unique distributions found are likely driven by both physical vulnerabilities for flooding as well as the social vulnerabilities.