A study by the Federal Emergency Management Agency shows that 25 percent of the buildings within 500 feet of the country’s coastlines will be threatened by erosion in the next 60 years. The study, released Tuesday, concluded that nearly 87,000 homes and other buildings will likely be washed into the oceans or Great Lakes.
“The findings are sobering,” said FEMA Director James Lee Witt in a prepared statement. “If coastal development continues unabated, and if the sea levels rise as some scientists are predicting, the impact will be even worse.”
Erosion damage costs are expected to average more than $500 million dollars per year, with the hardest hit areas being the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts. And increased hurricane activity will only increase the threat of coastal erosion.
The study was ordered by Congress and conducted by the John H. Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, a Washington research organization. It recommended that Congress direct FEMA to develop erosion hazard maps for coastal areas, including the cost of expected erosion losses for setting flood insurance rates in coastal areas.
The study also suggested: the establishment of coastal high hazard zones; mandatory surcharges on flood insurance in such zones; regulatory measures such as requiring building setbacks; the requirement of communities to impose building standards that take future flood potential into account; erosion insurance for bluff areas and relocation help or buyouts where necessary.
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