TODAY, I launch my CHI project titled After the Flood. This website is intended to be a briefing of research that I conducted this semester about the neighborhood effects that were associated with Nashville, Tennessee’s Great Flood of 2010. May 1-2, 2020 marked the 10-year anniversary of the flood experience in Nashville and surrounding areas. To understand how neighborhoods changed since the flood, I used the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to analyze the socioeconomic conditions of neighborhoods in Nashville five years before (2005-2009) and after the flood (2011-2015). Additionally, the racial composition changes of these neighborhoods were analyzed.

To access the ‘After the Flood’ website, click here

Website Characteristics

The website is broken up into two main sections: the about section and results section. In the about section, there is a brief background page describing literature related to natural disasters, socioeconomics and neighborhood effects/change. A methodology page is available that describes my research questions and the steps I took in my analysis. I used the Modified Darden-Kamel Composite Socioeconomic Index to identify socioeconomic positions (SEP) related to each census tract in the Metropolitan Nashville Area. There are five SEPs were SEP 1 represents neighborhoods with very low neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics, and SEP 5 represents neighborhoods with very high neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics. In the about section, there is also an acknowledgment page thanking those who helped in making this project possible. I’ll paraphrase that section in the ‘BIG Thanks to…’ section down below.

In the results section, there are four subsections. The first part is a link to the interactive 2010 map of damaged Nashville neighborhoods and which acted as the basis of this project. There was a total of approximately 11,100 neighborhoods with collected data on damages. I conducted a census tract-level analysis, where I matched socioeconomic positions from 2009 to 2015. My dataset was reduced to 2,183 neighborhoods due to some census tracts no longer existing in the American Community Survey from 2011-2015. The second part shows the reports of damage levels by socioeconomic position. The third part visualizes the racial composition of neighborhoods by socioeconomic position in 2009, while the fourth part visualizes the same information in 2015. The three races of analyzed for this project were Non-Hispanic Blacks, Non-Hispanic Whites and Hispanics. For the five years before the flood and the five years after, the racial composition stayed consistent in 2005-2009 and 2011-2015 but disparities existed in which race resided in higher and lower socioeconomic status neighborhoods.  

Big Thanks to…

Acknowledgments: Thank you to the Cultural Heritage Fellowship for project funding and the opportunity to begin learning about digital methods; to Ms. Jennifer Higgs and Mr. Joshua Swiderski of the Nashville GIS and Mapping Department for allowing me to use the Nashville Flood data; to my advisors in the Geography department for working with me about time while I completed this fellowship, my thesis and my RA- and TA-ships.

Project thanks to: Brian, Jen and James for their help and suggestions on website troubleshooting and different software that I could use for visualizations.

This is my graduating year of my master’s program and final year at Michigan State. I will be working in teaching for a few months before beginning my next goal. My upcoming goals have a lot to do with using technology and various software to visualize data. Through the team exercises with Autumn, Elise, Eric, James, Ryan and Zach, I learned many great things about coding and hope to learn more through different side projects.

Challenges and Moving Forward

This project was definitely a lesson of learning to crawl before walking. I had very grand plans about my project without knowing what it took to actually make one. I am most certain that I have a lot of ‘crawling’ left to do before I walk when dealing with web design and coding, but I am looking forward to it.

As I strengthen my skills in coding, I would like to restructure the website to match more of the style I was originally aiming to create. Initially, I envisioned a multipage website to hold the research I conduct on Nashville. I thought that there would be too much text/images and there would be no flow in being able to read the information. Now that the project is complete, I believe a single page template with a brochure/designed document available for download could work just the same. In the upcoming weeks, I would like to find a single page JavaScript template to work on adding this data to and rework this whole project. When I update the website, I will make a note of it at the start of this blog post. I am glad that I was able to participate in the CHI fellowship. I aim to learn more about coding and build on what I’ve learned to create more visualization projects.

If you have questions about the data, methodology or the project in general, feel free to reach out.


About the Author

Kyeesha M. Wilcox (wilcox49@msu.edu) is a graduate of the master’s program in the Department of Geography, Environment and Spatial Sciences at Michigan State University.