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From Home Furnishing Business

Statistically Speaking: Community Resilience Measures Abilities of Local Populations to React to Disasters

Community resilience is a term you might not have heard but may hear more often in the future as climate change continues to test our most vulnerable cities and communities. According to the Census Bureau, “Community Resilience” measures the capacity of individuals and households at absorbing, enduring and recovering from the external stresses of the impacts of a disaster. It looks at the ability of a population to withstand adversity from the impacts of these disasters, including weather- and disease-related events such as hurricanes, tornados, forest fires, floods and, yes, pandemics.

When a large percent of a local population has similar high-risk factors, it puts an entire community unable to effectively or timely recover from a disaster. This information is extremely helpful to local, state, and national governments, in developing strategies to assist communities with recovery. It also brings into focus local retail businesses operating in higher risk communities and how they would react and survive after a tornado, flood, hurricane, or wildfire. Some businesses might struggle to keep the doors open, for example, a local dry cleaner, while other retail entities, like furniture stores and building material dealers, might tend to thrive. (See “Natural Disasters Often Stimulate Furniture Industry Sales”, page 53.)

If natural disasters are to become more frequent and more destructive, it should be time for retail businesses, like furniture stores, to develop business strategies to address the needs of a community following a disaster. In order words, figure out how to be one of the retailers that thrives. One thing is certain, both governments and businesses were caught off guard in the pandemic.

The Census Bureau Community Resilience Estimates (CRE) program has quantified individual and household risk factors as shown in Figure 1. This installment of Statistically Speaking dives into the CRE and looks at the range of resilience in communities throughout the United States based on the number of risk factors.

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