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Environment

How America Fails at Communicating Flood Risks

We have good data about flood risks. The challenge is getting it to people when they need it, in a way that’s useful.
Obrad Gavrilovic peers out the window of his flooded home as waters rise in Bolivia, North Carolina, on September 15, 2018.
Obrad Gavrilovic peers out the window of his flooded home as waters rise in Bolivia, North Carolina, on September 15, 2018.Jonathan Drake/Reuters

For the majority of Americans, their home is the biggest purchase they will make and the largest contributor to their total net worth.  And for renters and owners alike, our homes represent security and sanctuary.

Few people would choose to live somewhere they knew would be flooded with unsanitary water, sending mold up the walls. Few would choose a home where repairing flood damage would send them into debt, or replacing damaged contents would be a financial hardship. Few would buy a home where increasing risks would drive down its value.