Research Alert

Newswise — It is no question that systematically assessing and identifying factors that affect risk disparity due to infrastructure service disruptions in service distributions in extreme weather events is important. This study proposes a household service gap model that characterizes societal risks at the household level by analyzing service disruptions as threats, level of tolerance of households to disruptions as susceptibility, and experienced hardship as an indicator for the realized impacts of risk.

The concept of “zone of tolerance” for the service disruptions was used to account for different capabilities of the households to withstand adverse impacts. The model was tested and validated in the context of power outages using survey data from the residents of Harris County in the aftermath following the 2017 Hurricane Harvey.

The study’s findings suggest that households’ need for utility service, preparedness level, the presence of alternatives, possession of social capital, prior experience with disasters, and risk communication affect the zone of tolerance within which households face service outages. Additionally, sociodemographic characteristics (race and residence type) are shown to influence the zone of tolerance, and therefore, emphasize the importance of introducing social dimensions into the resilience planning of infrastructure systems.

The full article can be found on the Risk Analysis journal website at