As Houston’s Vulnerable Neighborhoods Inundated by Floodwaters, Direct Relief Continues to Equip Area Clinics

Click on the Hurricane Harvey map to view Direct Relief’s health care partners, flood levels, social vulnerability and open Red Cross shelters in the Houston area. (Map by Andrew Schroeder/Direct Relief)

As the flooding impacts continue throughout Texas, Houston is being inundated by water, with active rescue efforts taking place in many areas.

The city is struggling to cope with record amounts of rain in the city. Two of the city’s reservoirs were undergoing a controlled water release on Monday, and Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner stated that 5,500 people had arrived in city shelters.

While flooding levels will vary across Houston, not all residents will be affected the same way.

Communities with large numbers of recent immigrants or persons for whom English is not their first language may be less well integrated into existing resilience structures, or in some cases experience social isolation and discrimination. Many other factors, such as housing and transportation, also exist. When looked at collectively, they indicate a community’s “social vulnerability” to disasters.

The data which drives Direct Relief’s social vulnerability application is based on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Social Vulnerability Index model, updated as of the end of 2014. The model uses census data at the census block level to understand relationships between different ways that disaster-affected communities may experience significant challenges in response and recovery in order to tailor resources, communications and planning to their needs.

The map above shows all of Direct Relief’s health care partners – free clinics and health centers that are often the first line of medical aid in their communities.

The map also shows the social vulnerability index of each census tract, the darker the color, the more vulnerable the area. By clicking on a census block, you can pull up precise information on how many people are uninsured, over 65, disabled, and speak limited English – as well as an overall social vulnerability score. The map also shows flood level stations, many of which are recording high levels of water disproportionately in census tracts with high social vulnerability.

The map also shows open Red Cross shelters in the Houston area.

Direct Relief is continuing to support efforts in Houston and throughout Texas, especially those health clinics who are reaching out to the most vulnerable.