A broad analysis of federal records finds that homeowners hoping to relocate out of flood zones in the U.S. don’t have equal access to the main source of federal funding meant to help them.
The study looked at more than 40,000 records for flood-prone homes that have been purchased by local governments with the help of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) since the late 1980s. Such voluntary buyouts of flood-prone properties are an important policy tool to move people out of harm’s way, especially as climate change drives sea level rise and more extreme rain in many parts of the U.S.
But homeowners can pursue a buyout only if their local government has set up the program through FEMA. This study found that not all flood-prone communities are able to do that.