Phase 1

Hudson City Case Files

Community Background

Hudson City is an eastern coastal city of about 800,000 people. The city center has a thriving arts, fashion, and entertainment center popular with regional tourists. Northside is home to two large corporations anchoring a busy financial center. Hudson City is also home to several of the finest medical, research, technology, and educational institutions in the country. You have lived and worked in Hudson City for the past three years. You are also employed at Hudson City Community Services, a non-profit agency that provides services for individuals and families, located in the City Center. Your home in the Westside neighborhood was largely spared damage in the hurricane that recently hit the city.

Hudson City’s dense population is fairly unbalanced along the income spectrum. About 18.5 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, a figure about five percentage points above the national average. Unemployment is somewhat higher than the national average, although the labor market has somewhat rebounded from job losses in hospitality and retail during and following the COVID-19 pandemic. However, overall mean income is above the national average, indicating considerable inequality.

Hudson City is home to many immigrants and almost 35% of the population is foreign-born. As many as 250 languages are spoken in Hudson City and almost 50% of the population speaks a language other than English at home, making it one of the most linguistically diverse cities in the country. Persons over 65 years make up about 14% of the population. Race and ethnic breakdown of the Hudson City population is 35% white, 27% Latinx, 35% Black, 2% Asian, and <1% American Indian/Alaskan/Native Hawaiian.

Your Concerns

Hurricane Diane, a Category 4 hurricane with wind speeds of 140 miles per hour, has just released 14 inches of rain, overflowing several rivers and disrupting public transportation and power infrastructure. It has so far killed 190 people and caused $1.8 billion in damage. Thousands of homes are without electricity, schools are closed, and some neighborhoods are without clean water. The city had not been fully prepared for this hurricane, as it has been spared from major hurricane activity for more than 25 years. Indeed, although the city council has periodically considered mitigation efforts such as reinforced power plants and strengthened dams, debates over the costs of such measures and intense polarization about the risks of climate change have thwarted any decisive action.

Hurricanes are giant, spiraling tropical storms that can pack wind speeds of over 160 miles an hour and unleash more than 2.4 trillion gallons of rain a day. These storms bring destruction ashore in several forms. High winds can roll over vehicles, collapse walls, and blow over trees. When a hurricane makes landfall, it often produces a devastating storm surge that can reach 20 feet high and extend nearly 100 miles. Torrential rains cause further damage by spawning floods and landslides, which may occur a few miles inland causing widespread structural damage to both man-made and natural structures. Scientists have determined that the increased risk of hurricanes and other forms of flooding is linked to climate change, which contributes to greater likelihood and severity of storms. Further, these forces are expected to intensify in the future.

As is the case in most communities that experience a natural disaster, the distribution of the damage in Hudson City is neither natural nor equitable. Specifically, the Eastside residential neighborhood took the brunt of the hurricane. It sustained major damage to buildings and infrastructure, including massive flooding which has caused street closures and public transportation barriers. Many residents have been displaced and have been evacuated to city shelters or to the homes of friends and relatives in nearby unaffected areas. The Northside neighborhood, home to the financial center, also sustained major flooding and damage, including the Abraham Lincoln bridge, one of the three main access points to Hudson City. Other neighborhoods sustained minor or no damage Crucially, assessments of risk to Hudson City’s infrastructure had highlighted the potential for such unevenly distributed consequences.


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Critical Thinking Questions

These core questions, specific to each client, will help you better understand and assess your client. Refer back to your answers throughout your assessment.

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