Major flood would hit Los Angeles Black communities disproportionately hard, study finds
As Los Angeles braces for an unprecedented storm that could bring historic rain to the region, a recent study finds that some minority communities are more susceptible to natural disasters than the majority.
The study was commissioned by the National Action Network, a nonprofit focused on social and racial justice, and conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota and the University of Northern California. The researchers compared the frequency of disaster-related deaths in minority and non-minority populations in Los Angeles County. It found that the numbers of disaster-related deaths in minority communities were far higher than in the majority white population in the county.
While a more complete analysis of the study is still pending, it could have important implications for local communities, said Scott M. Hensley, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy and Innovation, who was not involved in the research.
“I am not surprised — that’s what this country has known for a very long time,” Hensley said. “But it does raise questions about vulnerability to natural disasters that will need to be answered at the local level. I think part of this should be about better policy, so people’s lives aren’t negatively impacted by the kinds of calamities that are going to hit communities.”
The study compared the natural disaster emergency department (ED) calls received by public safety departments in 2010 — the most recent year available for the study — and compared these figures with the general ED population. For this analysis, the researchers considered emergency departments that have a single primary care provider and emergency medicine specialists, a group that includes general medicine practitioners, gynecologists, general internists, obstetrics and gynecologists, pediatricians, and pediatric emergency medicine specialists. This group was then compared to the general ED population to determine how many calls were expected.
It found that in 2010, the annual number of disaster-related ED visits was about 2.6 million, which is higher than the total number of ED visits in the general population. However, the study also found that the number of disaster-related ED visits during the same period was nearly 100 times higher for the minority population compared to the white population in Los Angeles County, making