Study: 5 million face increased flooding risk
Floodwaters covered parts of Louisiana this week.
March 14th, 2012
10:26 AM ET

Study: 5 million face increased flooding risk

Rising sea levels combined with storm surges will put more than 5 million people on U.S. coastlines at risk of flooding during the next 30 years, according to new research.

The combination could raise sea levels during storms to 4 feet above the high-tide line, threatening property that contains 2.6 million homes on 3 million acres of land, according to the report released Wednesday by Climate Central, a nonprofit research and journalism organization based in New Jersey.

“Escalating floods from sea level rise will affect millions of people, and threaten countless billions of dollars of damage to buildings and infrastructure,” Climate Central's Ben Strauss, the lead author of the report, said in a statement.

The report, titled "Surging Seas," is based on two new peer-reviewed studies, both published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Climate Central calls it "the first major national analysis of sea level rise in 20 years."

It says the odds of once-in-100-years flooding hitting regions of the coastal U.S. have more than doubled.

“Just a small amount of sea level rise, including what we may well see within the next 20 years, can turn yesterday’s manageable flood into tomorrow’s potential disaster," Strauss said in a statement.

The report takes flood analysis down to the local level. In 285 coastal cities and towns, half the population lives below that 4-foot mark, it says. Florida faces the biggest threat from the coastal flooding, according to the researchers.

"A preliminary independent analysis suggests about $30 billion in taxable property is vulnerable below the 3-foot line in just three counties in southeast Florida, not including the county with the most homes at risk in the state and the nation, Miami-Dade," a summary of the report says.

Other states facing substantial risk are Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Maryland, New York and Virginia, the report says. The report includes interactive maps showing how the rising seas could hit local areas.

To lessen the possibility of catastrophic flooding, the report calls for action to fight global climate change.

"The United States must work to slow sea level rise by reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases, and work to diminish the remaining danger by preparing for higher seas in coastal cities and counties everywhere," it says.

See a visualization of how rising sea levels could affect areas around the world

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Filed under: Flooding • Global Warming • Weather
soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. Lindalou

    Here in Michigan they require you to carry flood insurance if you're even close to the water. Friends have been fighting against having to pay for it in their neighborhood for years and its over $2000 a year in addition to their homeowner's insurance. They've never been flooded out and the price goes up everytime there's flooding in another part of the country. We're not talking a mansion here either.

    March 15, 2012 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mister Marty

    A research article from climate depot is like believing a women's right speech from Rush Limbaugh. There website is embarrassing. Climate models have not been proven. If man made global warming is as severe as they say only drastic population control to the tune of 50 percent will have any impact over the next 100 years. CNN should be ashamed of this bias extremism.

    March 15, 2012 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
    • I can't believe is not butter

      What about all these mega tornados that have killed hundreds of people the last threr years,and the sunamis that have killed thousands....why don't you go and ask dose people what they think,or better yet , just call them crazy!....i bet they would kick your teeth in.....

      March 15, 2012 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • rob2tall

      what fools disregard as scientific fact-will come back to haunt their children in about 25 years.But for now we will just continue to laugh at those who think global warming is a scam-when a super tornado wipes your house off the face of the earth in a location no tornadoes have ever been recorder-we will be here to humor you that its just a freak thing..
      Unless you actually have bothered to go to school long enough to earn a PhD in meteorology or a similar earth science-you ought to actually pay attention to what these scientists are saying!

      March 20, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billl

      I'm ashamed of your bias extremism, science-denier Marty!

      March 21, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. GOD 2012 HE'LL DECIDE


    March 15, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dazzle ©

    Not a comment by me above.

    March 16, 2012 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
  5. sissy

    Many transfer stations and dumps don't allow removal of dumped materials. There is one transfer station in Manzanita, OR that does excellent recycling. They allow people to donate items. The people are not charged dump fees for accepted items. These items are then sold to the public for nominal charges.Furniture, books, accessories, building & gardening materials are donated and sold. I think all transfer stations should have recycling stores. This would create jobs for people who would organize and sell the donated items. Their saleries would come from sales. People already do alot of recycling and donating. So much more could be done by using the Manzanita model.

    March 16, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  6. Pete Sake

    Don't worry about it. The extra water from glacier melt will be absorbed into the atmosphere. The humidity will be high, but, hey, we can't have our suv and cheap energy without some price. Besides, we can run the air conditioner more to keep the humidity down in the house. No problemo...

    March 18, 2012 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. Wolfy4661

    They have been crying wolf for years now and given these scenarios more times than I can count. SHOW SOME PROOF PLEASE OR SHUT UP ON GLOBAL WARMING. have a good day.

    March 20, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • rob2tall

      the proof is all around you-you just need an average IQ to see it-or actually bother to look at weather models for the last 50 years.

      March 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • AaaaCccc

      Clmate change is as old as the earth.
      It is happening. One may debate the cause, but science and history support change is a fact. Our ancestors worked on adapting to survive. We argue about nonsense. I'm having my doubts our species has evolved the intelligence to survive the obvious changes around us.

      March 20, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John

    Who cares? The problems we face aren't about nature doing what it does, they are caused by over population, and no politician or news outlet wants to admit it. Its not overpopulation in the sense of too many people, its overpopulation in terms of too many people living close together. Too many people is also a huge problem, and why our environment will be destroyed eventually, because we can't live with the forced zoning requirements that would protect the environment. Think of you own neighborhood.

    March 20, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. buufuu

    usa and canada needs to built big glass domes over cities.and built big cities that can float.

    March 20, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mark

    It doesn't help that our population is growing so fast that new houses are springing up all over the place. This means there are more houses in more places, and more of a chance they will be effected.

    March 20, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Oscar

    This info is nice, but what about the west coast of the United States?

    March 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mother of 2 Young Black Males

    I think that to follow the person you "feel threatened" by while carrying a gun is questionable in and of itself, especially when you were advised not to. And then to be the one "yelling for help"? Come on people.

    March 21, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. florida flood fool

    crap! I live in the county that is most at risk in the nation!! Just a block from the ocean!! Now what? My pool is about to overflow too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 21, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SOI

    guess my ins company will use this article to raise my bill. Nice.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
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