Extreme storms and rising seas put a growing number of homes at risk of flooding. In North Carolina, people in some of the most vulnerable areas have been offered buyouts.
“So that’s when the local and the state government approach a homeowner that has flooded badly and say, ‘You know, if you’re interested, we will buy your house from you for the market value. And we’ll tear that house down and restore it to open space so people don’t live in this place again,’” says Miyuki Hino of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Her research finds that more than 5,000 North Carolina properties were bought out over a roughly 20-year period.
But for every one of those buyouts, more than 10 new houses were built in a flood plain.
“So as we were trying to get people out and investing in helping people move to safer places, we were also allowing more people to move in and more lives and property, ultimately, to be at risk when those storms hit,” Hino says.
So she says one way to protect communities is through careful land use planning.
“We can move people out of harm’s way,” she says. “And we can also just avoid putting infrastructure and people into hazardous places to begin with.”
Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media