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U.S. Flood Strategy Shifts to ‘Unavoidable’ Relocation of Entire Neighborhoods

An article in the New York Times highlights the growing acceptance of planned relocation, also known as "managed retreat",  strategies to move homes out of harm's way amid rising sea levels and more frequent and severe hurricanes and storms.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have launched national large-scale relocation programs, worth $500 million and $16 billion, respectively. These programs, in contrast with prior efforts to purchase and demolish smaller numbers of individual homes, directs cities and counties to consider "large-scale migration or relocation" to protect entire communities. In the article, FEMA refers to its new program as a "transformational opportunity to change the way the nation invests in resilience".

Furthermore, the Army Corps of Engineers, which used to encourage voluntary re-location, now insists that cities and counties agree up-front to use eminent domain as a condition of Corps-funded buyouts. Some states, including California and New Jersey, have taken steps to encourage localities to prepare for managed retreat. 

"Officials’ increasing acceptance of relocation, which is sometimes called managed retreat, represents a broad political and psychological shift for the United States," the article states. "But that view has been blunted by years of brutal hurricanes, floods and other disasters, as well as the scientific reality that rising waters ultimately will claim waterfront land."

"U.S. Flood Strategy Shifts to ‘Unavoidable’ Relocation of Entire Neighborhoods", New York Times