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Environmental and socioeconomic dynamics of the Indian Ocean tsunami in Penang, Malaysia

Horton, B., Bird, M., Birkland, T., Cowie, S., Eong, O. J., Hawkes, A., Khoon, G. W., Law, L., Macgregor, C., Shau-Hwai, A.T., Sa, T.T., Yasin, Z.
2 008
Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography
This paper addresses some of the environmental and socioeconomic dimensions of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami on Penang, Malaysia. We aim to offer wide access to unique and perishable data, while at the same time providing insight to ongoing debates about hazards, vulnerability and social capital. Our social survey examines some of the dynamics that shaped the tsunami impact, response and recovery process. While in terms of lives lost Penang may not conform to arguments surrounding vulnerable environments, the recovery process is more marked by social disparities in terms of the ability to access resources. Our physical survey records local topography, flow depth and flow direction, and charts the differential impact of the tsunami. Yet measuring hazards is not a straightforward process, and relies on reflexive methodologies and eyewitness accounts.
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