Andrew White

Date of Award

Fall 2022

Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Susan Cutter


How communities react and change after disaster has been well-studied in recent decades. Knowledge around time scales, spatial scales, and specific facets of the built environment, such as housing recovery, have all developed largely around the opportunities that disasters have provided in understanding societal functions. This research has given policy makers and institutions insights into shortcomings of disaster specific recoveries, but these shortcomings are generalized beyond the scope of the originally studied areas. This thesis adapts this body of knowledge to a GIS methodology to help localize understanding to the coastal South Carolina context of Horry County. This low-lying area is at the bottom of a large watershed stretching to Virginia and is the county with the fastest growing population in the state. This overlay of increased housing demand and population growth onto a landscape where water is a fact of life creates communities that are increasingly vulnerable to loss and long recoveries.

These methods use residential parcel data from 2013 to 2020 to understand how the housing landscape in Horry County has responded to the substantial flooding events of 2015, 2016, and 2018 using an indicator of tax delinquency. Tax delinquency is used to signal a disinvestment from a property owner, which feeds a cycle of neighborhood devaluation and tax base decline. Understanding what physical parameters and areas of the county are unevenly delinquent will allow for future analysis to uncover what social characteristics and human processes correlate heavily with this neighborhood change in Horry County. Beyond location, parameters of position in urban or rural areas, as well as position relative to the Special Flood Hazard Area assess categorical differences in potential for delinquency.

Results of GIS analysis and statistical proportion tests reveal a 2014 wave of delinquency that precedes any flood impacts and therefore points to institutional origins. Subsequent years display clear changes in the distribution of delinquency across the county with delinquency hotspots and clusters developing in areas known to be subject to flooding. Categorically, rural areas are more delinquent than urban areas, but flood prone areas undergo a strong change from being significantly less delinquent than non-flood prone parcels to becoming significantly more delinquent as the county becomes more familiar with repeated flood loss.

Most of these results are consistent with current research, but also uncover unexpected intricacies present in Horry County, reaffirming the use in translating recovery literature findings to novel study areas.


© 2022, Andrew White

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