On the coast of Florida, the real estate market is in great shape despite repeated floods. However, tens of thousands of homes are at risk, although they are not officially in areas classified as flood zones, warns a new report released Monday.
Only a few blocks away from the beaches, just outside the floodplains, developers are busy building houses that have no legal obligation to buy flood insurance, taking advantage of a short-term economic boom that presages a long-term economic disaster term.
In Florida alone, 64,000 homes, worth a total of $ 26 billion, are at risk of chronic flooding in the next 30 years, the usual duration of US home mortgages, warns the report released by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), an American scientific organization.
Across the United States, 311,000 coastal homes, worth $120 billion, are at risk of chronic flooding by 2045, according to the same report. This risk of flooding has nothing to do with hurricanes and storms: the danger comes from high tides, which are getting higher and higher, when water pours into the streets, on the sidewalks, in shops and restaurants, in houses – even in good weather.
“This risk is relatively short-term, long before everything is completely flooded, and it can happen without a storm,” says Rachel Cleetus, an economist at UCS.
However, the real estate market does not take into account these risks, says the researcher, who warns that an economic correction is “inevitable”.
The organization has published on its website a map showing the areas actually at risk according to it, on the basis of a scenario of strong rise of water. For homeowners, whose houses are often the most important possession, it is necessary to take into account the top of the risk range, says Rachel Cleetus.
Chronic floods are defined as occurring at least 26 times a year.
In Florida, ocean levels are expected to rise by 55 centimeters by 2045, and 1.95 meters by 2100 while the average altitude in the state is about 1.80 meters, and many places are below zero.
“It’s a slow-motion catastrophe,” says the economist.
Miami, Tampa Bay and the very touristy Florida Keys are the most exposed. Whole neighborhoods could be permanently flooded, an astronomical cost for homeowners but also for counties, which would lose population and tax revenues.
The problem is that homebuyers only take into account the maps of the Federal Government, which have often not been updated for years or decades.
In Sarasota, many residents say they do not need flood insurance because they are not in official flood zones. An absurd decision according to Deseron Companion, an expert on Sarasota County flood. “Everyone is in a flood zone,” she says.