Floods are among the most destructive and expensive climate-related disasters in the US. Not just for cities and states, but for individual homeowners.
More homes are at risk of severe flooding than we used to think. On June 29, the New York-based nonprofit research outfit First Street Foundation published a remarkable set of updated flood maps for the continental US, revealing that official flood maps leave out huge swaths of the country—both on the coast and alongside inland rivers—that are, in fact, at high risk. The 14.6 million homes the maps show are exposed to a major “100-year” flood is nearly twice the official estimate.
That new, more accurate information is a critical tool for homebuyers. It can help community groups advocate for infrastructure upgrades, and guide insurance pricing that could be an effective deterrent to building in risky areas. But depending on how the revised maps get used, they could end up leaving some high-risk areas even more exposed, some economists warn.
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