Race, Ethnicity, and Flooding

Map 1–African American Residents versus Inundated Schools.  These schools were registered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as being flooded during Sandy.  Where schools were inundated, much of the surrounding residential neighborhood often was as well.  Hover over a school dot and right click for that school’s name.  Sources: NHGIS and FEMA

Map 2–Latino Residents versus Inundated Schools.  These schools were registered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as being flooded during Sandy.  Where schools were inundated, much of the surrounding residential neighborhood often was as well.  Hover a school dot and right click for that school’s name.  Sources: NHGIS and FEMA

African American and Latino communities are scattered across Long Island, from the Brooklyn and Queens area through the middle of the Island toward the East end.  Many but not all lie toward the lower end of the economic spectrum, within the city but also in pockets across the Long Island suburbs.

African American communities have been especially concentrated across the region by historic processes of racial segregation, whose effects have persisted in more recent decades even as their maintenance has gotten more subtle.  The African American communities are represented on the map by the lightest gray—the least proportion of blacks–through to gray, darker gray and black, with the latter representing the highest proportion.  The most intensive and pervasive water damage to schools–and by extension, to nearby homes– came in many zones with high proportions of African Americans: along the southern shores of Brooklyn from Coney Island into the Rockaways, extending to Valley Stream and the Nassau County township of Hempstead, also out to Long Beach.  From there eastward into Suffolk, where African American communities remained mostly inland, excluded from the coastlines, those communities suffered lesser damage.  

The Latino communities on the map are represented by shades ranging from light orange (least concentrated)  to darker brown, most heavily populated by this ethnic group.  The geographic distribution of these communities also reflects historic patterns of segregation, as well as a more intensive recent migration suburb-ward.  Most clusters lie within and near New York City but then also stretch along the middle of the Island, particularly in Suffolk County.   As with African Americans, those Latino communities across the middle and eastern parts of the island saw little damage to their schools, and by extension their own nearby homes.   The more inundated schools near Latino communities lie across southern Brooklyn and Queens into Central Nassau.  Indeed, in these parts of the island, also the hardest hit by the storm, most all damaged schools appear to lie in areas where either Latinos or African Americans were most concentrated.