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Homeowners in flood-prone wealthy areas have a much better chance of receiving a government buyout than more vulnerable rural areas with lower-income residents, according to a study published last week. The New York Times concluded that federal flood relief programs intended to help Americans move away from disaster-prone areas are skewed toward high-income communities, but that within those communities the funds are used to buy and tear down homes in poorer neighborhoods, raising issues of equity within those communities.
Why This Matters: As climate change worsens, many areas in the U.S. have increasing exposure to its dangers. And the study revealed that because “local officials must request federal funds for buyouts — and then successfully navigate a series of bureaucratic requirements — and wealthier jurisdictions are more likely to have the staff and expertise necessary to do that.” Indeed, according to another recent paper by the Natural Resources Defense Council, it takes more than five years between the time a flood strikes and when Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) completes a buyout project. These insights are important factors as policy changes are debated and implemented to better “manage retreat” and make the most of limited federal disaster dollars.
Climate Change Poses A High Risk To Economy As a Whole
Another key takeaway from the study, according to The Times, is that climate change could pose an even more severe risk to the housing market, and to the economy as a whole, than the recession of 2008.
“At the same time, the number of Americans with flood insurance has dropped significantly from its peak a decade ago.”
Homeowners rely on their local government to apply for relief and the local government then determines which homeowners can participate in buyouts. FEMA says that its grant programs are designed to capitalize on the in-depth knowledge that each county floodplain manager has regarding the needs of their communities.
Flood Prone States
The authors of the study looked at all 43,000 homes that the FEMA has bought and demolished in flood-prone areas since 1989.
The six states with the most bought-out properties — Missouri, Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, Iowa, and New Jersey — are all among the top 10 states for cumulative flood-related property damage over the same time frame, in total or per capita.
However, not all states with high flood-related damages have prioritized buyouts — Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi have the most cumulative flood-related property damage, but they rank 23, 18, and 21, respectively, for statewide property buyouts.
by Julia Fine, ODP Contributing Writer Climate change is transforming the taste of Burgundy wine grapes, National Geographic reported. According to a study published last year out of Climate of the Past, which examined almost 700 years of wine records from Beaune, France, from 1354 until 1987, grapes were “on average picked from 28 September […]
As Axios reported yesterday based on insight received from the Biden campaign: foreign policy will look drastically different if Joe Biden defeats President Trump in November— starting with a Day One announcement that the U.S. is re-entering the Paris Climate Agreement and new global coordination of the coronavirus response. Why This Matters: Even though most […]
A new study shows that climate change in the 150 years since the industrial revolution has canceled out the prior 6500 years of cooling. The study, conducted by researchers at Northern Arizona University’s School of Earth and Sustainability (SES), examined a new compilation of paleoclimate data along with new statistical analyses and found that millennial-scale […]
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