As climate risks worsen, U.S. flood buyouts fail to meet the need

Flood, Passaic River, Hurricane Irene

ROB MOORE / YALE ENVIRONMENT 360 – After historic floods in October 2015, residents of the Shadowmoss neighborhood in Charleston, South Carolina decided they’d had enough and were ready to move elsewhere, out of harms way. In response, Charleston officials applied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for more than $10 million to buy out 48 homes.

Little did the residents of Shadowmoss (or city officials) know that four years would go by before this effort would be completed. Charleston’s application for funding wasn’t approved by FEMA until October 2017. After the requisite reviews were finally completed, all the homes were purchased, but demolition was not completed until the summer of 2019. In the meantime, the neighborhood had experienced a total of four major flooding events in three years …

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