Investigating Health Consequences from Major Flood Occurrences in South-Central Texas through the Lens of Frame Theory and Analysis, Assessing Awareness, and Communicating Risk
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A lack of awareness has many consequences, including our failure to note, much less document, occurrences of specific impacts or to give timely recognition to causal relationships. This is particularly true when we examine flood disasters. This research embraces and investigates the historical record in south-central Texas as it reflects the scope of health effects experienced by individuals and society as a result of major flood occurrences. The compilation of a record of deaths, injuries and disease following major floods form the basis for developing awareness materials to inform local officials responsible for health concerns and emergency management of the spectrum of recurrent impacts that floods can have on human health and society. If we are to adjust and apply appropriate measures to minimize the detrimental impacts of floods, we must first know the nature, extent, and potentiality of those impacts.
This research is guided by two major propositions. First, that it is possible to develop an account of data and information related to epidemiology and the flood hazard in south-central Texas for use by local leaders to implement safety (mitigation) and preparedness programs, thereby saving lives and properties as well as reducing adverse health impacts that could reduce quality of life. And second, that local leaders must activate, or implement, the first proposition by developing a process of communicating risk at the local government level that includes understanding the historical record of flooding in south-central Texas as it relates to health and flooding; developing risk communication materials designed for use by local leadership regarding health and flooding based on the historical analysis; educating and informing local leaders of the potential community-level risk from health and flooding; and, assessing the degree to which these materials, based on the historical record of health and flooding, increase awareness levels of local leadership.
By appropriately framing the limited available data, it is shown that an informative process based on empirical and systematic analysis can significantly influenced the perspectives of decision makers who are responsible for communicating risk and appropriate response to ensure the public safety and well-being. Incorporating scientific data into the risk communication process led to the development of a triple-context model in which the technical / scientific context includes identification of hazards and evaluation of risks by the qualitative risk-informed approach or, if sufficient data are available, by quantitative risk assessment. This technical-scientific context balances the socio-political and cultural contexts of risk communication.