Recoding County-Level Data

Wednesday January 04, 2012

•  counties •  data •  data science •  environmental policy •  environmental studies •  FEMA •  flood mitigation •  flood studies •  mathematics •  scientific computing • 

This evening I finished recoding a list of grants from FEMA for Flood Mitigation Assistance. This dataset contains 2108 entries, and contains the following columns, among others:

State County Subgrantee
Maryland Garrett Oakland, Town Of
Maryland   Town of Bel Air
Maryland   Howard County Department of Fire Rescue Services
Maryland Worcester Ocean City, Town Of

Because many of the subgrantee fields are filled even when the county is not and most of the subgrantees are local government agencies, I tried to recode the counties according to FIPS 6-4, “Counties and Equivalent Entities of the United States, Its Possessions, and Associated Areas.” Local governments were recoded to their parent counties, as appropriate.

Going through this process by hand, I have some observations on the first-order divisions of states:

  1. There are five townships in Ohio with the name Scioto.
  2. There are two counties named Jeff Davis, one named Jefferson Davis, and a parish in Louisiana named Jefferson Davis.
  3. There are seven counties in the United States named Howard County.
  4. A remarkable number of states have cities and counties with the same name, but which are not near each other.