Should I Stay or Should I Go

With the US and its territories having been hit by three major hurricanes this year, coastal communities have been under incredible pressure, as the floods, winds, and everything else have caused massive destruction and displacement. These damages are only expected to become more severe in the future, as the threats of coastal erosion, land subsidence, and sea level rise all combine to undercut the very ground on which these communities are built. With all these risks, the question of whether communities should look to rebuild or relocate after a disaster is of increasing importance. Writing for Brink News, B.R. Balachandran, an urban planner with expertise in post-disaster reconstruction, offers some insights into what should be considered, and what support may be needed, to ensure communities are able to make decisions that benefit the most members, including:

  • Community cohesion, ensuring that close-knit communities with strong cultural and historic ties to their locations are not disassembled;
  • Considerations around flooding, including flood insurance providing mitigation during redevelopment, and a FEMA buyout program for properties exposed to repeated flooding; and
  • Pilot programs, like the Isle de Jean Charles Resettlement Project, and Louisiana's Strategic Adaptations for Future Environs policy document.

With Houston now having been hit by three "500-year storms" over the last three years, the costs and constraints of rebuilding and relocating will only continue to grow.