18,000 Texans at risk of chronic flooding

by Lauren Brocato

The rising sea level is becoming an increasingly dangerous reality for residents of many coastal cities, especially for those who reside in coastal Texas towns.  

In the next 30 years, slightly more than 10,000 Texas homes will be at risk of chronic flooding, 179 of which are located in Houston.

A report produced by the Union of Concerned Scientists outlined the reality and severity of flooding, as well as what the damage could mean for those who live in at-risk areas.

When chronic flooding affects a home, or even a town, the value of the home inevitably drops. Texas is one state that has a large elderly population, and the flooding can be debilitating for those citizens who suffer from water damage.

“In several communities along the Texas coast, including the Bolivar Peninsula, Rockport, and Fulton, where hundreds of properties are at risk of chronic inundation by 2030, between one in five and one in three residents is currently over the age of 65,” the report noted.

Most elderly people in the area live on a fixed income, own their homes outright and have a bit of personal wealth tied up in their property. For this reason, elderly residents are at a greater risk of losing a large share of their personal wealth after water damage sets in compared to those under age 65.

Not just residential properties are at risk, but commercial spots as well. With a population nearing 18,000 people, Texas tourism and tourism related revenue are at risk as the sea level continues to rise.  If a Texas beach town regularly floods, the popularity of the town as a vacation hotspot will soon decline. This affects both homeowners in those areas and vacationers who rent out their homes. As a result, residents who benefit from tourism generated revenue will also be affected. This ripple effect causes a large network of people to face the reality of what chronic flooding can do to coastal areas.

“Not all affected communities will share the same experience,” said Erika Spanger-Siegfried, senior analyst in the Climate and Energy Program at UCS and report co-author. “Some may see sharp adjustments to their housing market in the not-too-distant future; some could see a slow, steady decline in home values; and others could potentially invest in protective measures to keep impacts at bay for a few more decades.”

So what is the state of Texas doing to solve this issue?

The Addicks and Barker reservoirs, which create a temporary dam to deal with flooding, is the best flood control investment that the Houston region has ever made, according to the Houston Chronicle. Creating infrastructure to deal with the unavoidable reality of flooding, paired with adequate knowledge about flooding and floodplains are just some of the ways in which residents can begin to create solutions. The initial report suggest that it is up to us to implement ‘science-based, coordinated and equitable solutions’ to combat the damage of flooding and minimize the risk of an economic downfall as a result.

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