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Will Americans Ever Move Out of Flood-Prone Areas?

After a series of hurricanes, experts discuss how guide people out of the way of the most deadly floods and storms.
September 16, 2017, 7am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Derek Bridges

"As seas rise, flooding is becoming almost a weekly occurrence in cities up and down the East Coast. As storms grow stronger, so are the calls to walk away from the most flood-prone places," Miyuki Hino, Katharine J. Mach, and Christopher B. Field write in Vox.

The problem is not that there aren't good reasons to move. "We found that moving to safer ground can be an attractive option for many reasons: It protects livelihoods, restores coastal ecosystems, and reduces damages from extreme weather," they write. But existing incentives can push people to stay.

Property taxes support localities, motivating mayors to keep populations in place or grow them. In states like Florida and Texas, which lack a state income tax, this incentive gets even stronger.

Monetary concerns can contribute to states decisions to let developers build freely. Meanwhile, when these places flood, relief efforts call heavily on federal money. "Florida alone is home to 1,601 'severe repetitive loss properties' — properties that, on average, flood every two to three years and have been rebuilt five times with the help of taxpayer money. Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston, has close to 2,000 such properties."

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Published on Thursday, September 14, 2017 in Vox
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