Last month, graduate research assistant Julie Arbit (SEAS '21) and undergraduate research assistant Abha Panda (LSA '21) presented their work on flood-prone neighborhoods in Detroit to the Department of Learning Health Sciences in the University of Michigan's Medical School. Arbit and Panda have been comparing socioeconomic data against historic land cover and use to understand how cronic flooding and flood risk plays a role in systemic disenfranchisement and disadvantage. 

"I find it fascinating how relevant historical land cover, land use, and residential development patterns influence where localized flooding occurs," commented Arbit. "It speaks volumes to the systemic nature of inequity, and also paints a picture of how to avoid these issues when re-developing in the present and future."

Part of the presentation included comparing pervious and impervious land cover in downtown Detroit; perhaps unsurpising for the Motor City, most of the ground cover in the city limits is at least 50% impervious (does not absorb water). Strikingly, however, the areas that are 100% impervious overlap disproportionately with the lowest-income areas of the city and subsidized residences.

"I think it is astonishing how the same flood can impact neighboring communities in completely different ways when there is an unequal distribution of resources," noted Panda. "Floods often disproportionately impact already disadvantaged households because of lapses in aid, regulation and infrastructure, furthering socioeconomic disparities that urgently need to be addressed."

View their presentation deck here.