Assessment of the hurricane-induced power outages from a demographic, socioeconomic, and transportation perspective


Natural disasters have devastating effects on the infrastructure and disrupt every aspect of daily life in the regions they hit. To alleviate problems caused by these disasters, first an impact assessment is needed. As such, this paper focuses on a two-step methodology to identify the impact of Hurricane Hermine on the City of Tallahassee, the capital of Florida. The regional and socioeconomic variations in the Hermine’s impact were studied via spatially and statistically analyzing power outages. First step includes a spatial analysis to illustrate the magnitude of customers affected by power outages together with a clustering analysis. This step aims to determine whether the customers affected from outages are clustered or not. Second step involves a Bayesian spatial autoregressive model in order to identify the effects of several demographic-, socioeconomic-, and transportation-related variables on the magnitude of customers affected by power outages. Results showed that customers affected by outages are spatially clustered at particular regions rather than being dispersed. This indicates the need to pinpoint such vulnerable locations and develop strategies to reduce hurricane-induced disruptions. Furthermore, the increase in the magnitude of affected customers was found to be associated with several variables such as the power network and total generated trips as well as the demographic factors. The information gained from the findings of this study can assist emergency officials in identifying critical and/or less resilient regions, and determining those demographic and socioeconomic groups which were relatively more affected by the consequences of hurricanes than others.

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The authors would like to thank the City of Tallahassee, especially Michael Ohlsen and John Powell, for providing data and valuable insight. The contents of this paper and discussion represent the authors’ opinion and do not reflect the official view of the City of Tallahassee. This research is partly supported by US National Science Foundation award 1640587.

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Correspondence to Mehmet Baran Ulak.

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Ulak, M.B., Kocatepe, A., Konila Sriram, L.M. et al. Assessment of the hurricane-induced power outages from a demographic, socioeconomic, and transportation perspective. Nat Hazards 92, 1489–1508 (2018).

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  • Hurricane impact assessment
  • Power outages
  • Socioeconomic analysis
  • Community resilience
  • Bayesian spatial autoregressive analysis