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The Increase in Flood Risks on the Coasts

hurricane storm surgeAround 20,000 homes built in the past decade are at significant risk of chronic coastal flooding by 2050, according to a new report from Zillow. The analysis by Climate Central and Zillow shows that 800,000 existing homes worth $451 billion will be at risk in a 10-year flood by 2050. This is an increase from last year’s estimate of around 386,000 current U.S. homes.

"This research suggests that the impact of climate change on the lives and pocketbooks of homeowners is closer than you think. For home buyers over the next few years, the impact of climate change will be felt within the span of their 30-year mortgage," said Skylar Olsen, Zillow's Director of Economic Research and Outreach. "Without intervention, hundreds of thousands of coastal homes will experience regular flooding and the damage will cost billions. Given that a home is most people's largest and longest-living asset, it takes only one major flood to wipe out a chunk of that long-growing equity.  Rebuilding is expensive, so it's doubly tragic that we continue to build brand new units in areas likely to flood."

While some cities may only be impacted on their beaches, depending on the local rate of rise, local tides and storms, the potential future development of coastal defenses, the flatness of the landscape and where homes are built other cities may see a far reaching impact from storms. Florida would have the most homes in the zone at risk from sea-level rise and 10-year floods by 2100 (1.58 million), followed by New Jersey (282,354), Virginia (167,090), Louisiana (157,050) and California (143,217).

"Thanks to Zillow's data, Climate Central's sea level rise analysis provides an economic view of coastal flood risks that homeowners may face – not generations into the future, but within the time frame of a typical home loan," said Dr. Benjamin Strauss, CEO and chief scientist of Climate Central. "In many states, building on land projected by 2050 to face chronic flood risks has outpaced development in safer places. Failure to control climate pollution will lead to faster-rising seas and bigger coastal risk zones, but building a cleaner-running economy can still reduce these consequences."

About Author: Seth Welborn

Seth Welborn is a Harding University graduate with a degree in English and a minor in writing. He is a contributing writer for MReport. An East Texas Native, he has studied abroad in Athens, Greece and works part-time as a photographer.
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