The Oconee River in Athens, Georgia, on Tuesday, March 26, 2018. (Photo/Shubham Kadam)

AT&T released findings from a University of Georgia research effort on March 25, where studies of Athens-Clarke County found that Black, Hispanic and low-income communities had 38% to 185% higher flood risk compared to the average risk. 

In 2019, AT&T began a Climate Resiliency Community Challenge, an effort to help communities in the southeastern United States build resilience to climate change by funding local universities, including the University of Georgia and the Georgia Institute of Technology, to conduct projects in assessing climate risks and aiding local governments in climate adaptation and resilience planning.

AT&T announced in February 2020 that both UGA and Georgia Tech would be given $50,000 to conduct their research. Using these donations and data commissioned by AT&T from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, the universities looked to tackle local climate impacts and their community responses, according to an email from AT&T. 

UGA’s research was conducted through the Institute for Resilient Infrastructure Systems. The results of the study were that Athens flooding impacts low-income and minority communities to a much more severe extent than other areas of the town. Black, Hispanic and low-income communities in Athens were shown to face higher risks ranging from 38% to 185% compared to the average risk in Athens.

The studies also found that flood risks will continue to increase due to climate change and identified specific areas of risk in Athens-Clarke county in the future. 

This is part of AT&T’s larger Climate Change Resiliency Project which serves “to better anticipate, prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change,” and “will help anticipate potential impacts of climate change on our network infrastructure and business operations 30 years into the future.”