Property Buyouts Can Reduce Flood Impacts, but Funding, Planning Hurdles Limit Their Reach
Pew report outlines barriers to using this key mitigation tool and offers recommendations to improve policy and outcomes
MATHEW SANDERS / PEW CHARITABLE TRUSTS – In 2021, President Joe Biden approved disaster declarations for more than 25 flood-related events. And over the past four years, all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and several U.S. territories have experienced floods that upended communities and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses. For millions of Americans, these impacts are nothing new; rather, they are part of a cycle of devastation and recovery.
Whether a community has repeatedly flooded or is experiencing severe flooding for the first time, property buyouts—in which a state or locality purchases flood-prone properties and reverts them to green space, wetlands, or other natural conditions that absorb floodwater and promote better flood plain management—can be one of the most effective strategies to mitigate flood risk for the long term. However, a new report from The Pew Charitable Trusts, “Property Buyouts Can Be an Effective Solution for Flood-Prone Communities,” finds that significant challenges related to federal funding sources limit the scale and effectiveness of many state and local buyout programs. The study also identifies opportunities for collaboration across levels of government to reduce barriers that buyout efforts face …