Dontá Council
Community and Economic Development
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Grace Meagher
Research analyst
Community and Economic Development
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Leah Cabrera
Former intern
Community and Economic Development
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Discussion Paper 2024-02
June 2024

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Weather-related disaster risks have adverse economic impacts for workers, households, and communities across the country. Low-income communities and communities of color tend to be at disproportionate risk to economic disruptions from weather-related disasters. Our team surveyed and interviewed professionals in the Southeast that work with or whose work impacts these marginalized communities across core issue areas relevant to community development, resilience, and disaster risk management in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors. Respondents and interviewees shared their perceptions of how weather-related disaster risks may be affecting the communities they serve as well as the work of their respective organizations. Findings suggest that while professionals working in underserved communities in the Southeast are generally aware of weather-related disaster vulnerabilities and some play active roles managing these risks, many lack necessary expertise and resources to feel prepared to navigate future disaster risks. For individuals, factors that contribute to their inability to prepare for and respond to disaster risks include lack of financial capacities (for example, savings, insurance) and lack of affordable housing. We provide insights into the potential role of the community development organizations and resilience professionals in responding to these needs.

JEL classification: Q54, H83, L31

Key words: weather-related disaster, disaster risk, resilience, climate change

Special thank you to Cassandra Jean, Elizabeth Mattiuzzi, Patrick Pontius, Brittney Birken, Charly van Dijk, Mary Hirt, Julie Siwicki, Sergio Galeano, Sarah Miller, Lauren Offenberg, Ann Carpenter, Kathleen Peters, and Nancy Condon for their feedback and helpful comments. Additional thanks to Ann Carpenter and Karen Leone de Nie for their support and outreach efforts. The views expressed here are the authors’ and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta or the Federal Reserve System.

Comments to the author are welcome at