Flood-prone US states have billions of dollars of property at stake in the next 15 years — here’s where it will be worst

It’s been nearly a year since Hurricane Harvey brought 130 mph winds and rain that fell up to four inches per hour on Texas’ Gulf Coast.

While climate change didn’t cause Harvey, scientists say a warmer planet likely made the storm worse. Plus, higher sea levels – due to climate change and human disruptions (like oil drilling) have changed the ocean and land levels – encouraged destructive flooding as the stormwater rose.

Over the next 15 years, tens of thousands of homes in states across the US are at risk of chronic flooding due to sea-level rise. Besides the human toll, high-tide floods have the power to destroy coastal real estate.

According to a new report from the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists, chronic inundation threatens more than 100,000 of today’s coastal homes, with a collective market value of about $52.4 billion.

Using data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), researchers were able to map communities in the 2030 floodplain and estimate property damage over time. It is important to note that these findings do not include future development or new homes, nor critical infrastructure including roads, bridges, power plants, airports, public buildings, and military bases.

“The implications for coastal residents, communities, and the economy are profound,” the researchers wrote.

The nonprofit’s report outlines which states face at least $1 billion in property damage by 2030. The 14 hardest-hit states are below.


14. Texas — $1.2 billion

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Area residents use a kayak to rescue motorists stranded on Interstate highway 45 which is submerged from the effects of Hurricane Harvey seen during widespread flooding in Houston.
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13. Alabama — $1.23 billion

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Sharon Craver trys to get help getting trees felled by Hurricane Ivan removed from her home in Foley, Alabama.
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12. Georgia — $1.38 billion

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Danny Agan (L) and his mother, Becky Bentley, help a neighbor remove valuables from a flood damaged home in Austell, Georgia.
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11. Washington — $1.4 billion

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Flood waters caused by the Oso mudslide block a private driveway near Washington Highway 530 in Oso, Washington.
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10. North Carolina — $1.5 billion

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Cassandra Rush, Rosa Rush, and Anyah Carpenter walk through floodwaters in their neighborhood in Lumberton, North Carolina.
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9. Connecticut — $1.9 billion


8. Maryland — $2 billion

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A woman observes the damage to the Fishing Pier after Hurricane Sandy hit the region in Ocean City, Maryland.
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7. Massachusetts — $2.1 billion

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Flood water covers a street, forcing local businesses to close, following massive flooding in the downtown area in Peabody, Massachusetts.
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6. Louisiana — $2.6 billion

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People on Canal St. use a boat to get to higher ground as water began to fill the streets in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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5. South Carolina — $2.9 billion

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A cyclist rides through flooded sidewalks in the wake of Hurricane Matthew in Charleston, South Carolina.
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4. New York — $3.7 billion

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Water rushes into the Carey Tunnel (previously the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel), caused by Hurricane Sandy in the Financial District of New York.
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Getty Images/Andrew Burton

3. Florida — $7.9 billion

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Flooding at Alton Road and 10th Street is seen in Miami Beach, Florida.
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Zachary Fagenson/Reuters

2. California — $10.3 billion

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People look at cars and homes engulfed in floodwaters in San Jose, California.
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1. New Jersey — $10.4 billion

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Houses on the Jersey shore flood after Hurricane Sandy.
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New Jersey Governor’s Office/Tim Larsen