Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering

Degree Level



Industrial Engineering


Milburn, Ashlea

Committee Member/Reader

Sullivan, Kelly


Hurricane Florence was a category 4 storm which caused an estimated $24 billion in damages and the loss of 53 lives. During and immediately following Florence, there were 235 shelters operating in and around the North Carolina (NC) area. These were used as temporary housing for storm victims and by emergency responders to distribute relief supplies and provide medical services. Emergency officials consider several factors when deciding where to open shelters, including, for example, proximity of victims and their levels of medical needs. Access disparities, or factors creating barriers that limit entry to shelters, put certain populations and regions at higher risk of not receiving the necessary supports during a response effort. Despite the recognized need for universal accessibility, the explicit consideration of populations of increased risk, such as the elderly and those with Access and Functional Needs (AFN), is missing from the disaster response shelter location literature. Methods to maximize the potential spatial accessibility of shelter locations, inclusive of vulnerability factors, are demonstrated for a case study based on Hurricane Florence. The recommended shelter locations were compared to the locations of actual shelters used during Florence as well as other shelter placement methods on the basis of accessibility scores.


shelter, shelter placement, natural disaster, health needs, optimization model