Southern California's wildfires have emphasized the fact that many people choose to live in disaster-prone areas all across the country. Many of them say the benefits outweigh the inherent risk.
"Why do displaced residents and businesses continue to populate at-risk areas? The most obvious reason is that the decision is deeply personal. For Californians, there is an intuitive cost-benefit analysis that underlies their decision to live where they do; community and history, not to mention the sunshine, trump the risks of natural disasters like fires, earthquakes, and mudslides. 'I was born and raised here,' says Lauren Bullock, 28, an event planner who lives in Encinitas and helped her family evacuate their homes last week. 'This is my home. This is what I know.'"
"Resources vs. risk. But there are other factors, some studded with controversy. There is, for one, the economic gamble of living in a risky spot. According to a recent World Bank report, coastal regions consistently have the best access to resources-water, transportation, fishing-and thus more room for economic and population growth. Yet they also tend to be the most hazardous to inhabit. Over the past 75 years, for example, the population of Broward County in southern Florida has grown nearly 30 times faster than the national average even though it is one of the most hurricane-prone areas in the country."