Environment Systems and Decisions

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 264–278 | Cite as

Integrated framework for the Relocation Potential Assessment of Coastal Communities (RPACC): application to Hurricane Sandy-affected areas

  • Anamaria Bukvic


Coastal communities represent aggregates of wealth, economic activity, and population, but also of emerging physical hazards that can undermine their long-term vitality and prosperity. The 2012 Hurricane Sandy event is in many ways indicative of what may become a major issue in densely populated coastal centers whose unsustainable land use patterns often dictate their inherently low resilience to coastal hazards. Ideally, disaster-affected communities should recognize this window of opportunity to reverse said trends, establish realistic linkages between risks and response options, and engage in innovative adaptation. Despite increasing exposure to repetitive hazards and new risk information, many places still prefer to simply rebuild, maintain status quo, or support only conservative in situ adaptation and disaster risk reduction strategies. However, some circumstances call for more drastic and permanent solutions, such as relocation. This paper presents a novel integrated framework for the Relocation Potential Assessment of Coastal Communities designed to inform dilemma whether to rebuild or relocate from coastal areas devastated by a disaster. The main objective of this early effort is to propose metrics for the development of comprehensive assessment tool that will help identify areas of heightened social and physical vulnerabilities for which relocation may represent a more viable adaptation option. The proposed two-pronged approach promulgates the need for the integration of qualitative secondary data on socioeconomic profile, physical risks, and disaster exposure, with the bottom-up generated information on additional household-specific concerns that would improve accuracy and validity of considered stressors and therefore the usability of relocation potential assessment tool.


Coastal Relocation Retreat Hurricane Sandy Resilience 



The author is very thankful to Erin Puckett for her dedication to this project and more specifically, development of GIS maps and data management.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Urban Affairs and PlanningVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA

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