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Flood risk to rise more than 25% in the next few decades because of climate change

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An aerial picture taken on January 3, 2022, shows vehicles driving along a road flooded with ocean water during the "King Tide" in Mill Valley, California.

An aerial picture taken on Jan. 3, 2022, shows vehicles driving along a road flooded with ocean water during the "King Tide" in Mill Valley, California. JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images

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The risk of flooding around the U.S. will increase by more than 25% over the next 30 years because of climate change. That’s according to a new study published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change. 

Flooding is already causing a lot of damage in the U.S. — more than $30 billion just in 2020, the study found.  

Oliver Wing at the flood risk analytics firm Fathom is one of the authors, and he said, historically, “it’s typically more impoverished and whiter communities that bear an outsized burden of flood risks.”

But he said the rise in flood risk will disproportionately affect Black communities as climate change intensifies flooding in the south and east of the country, “along coasts and in the paths of hurricanes. These are areas generally where Black communities are concentrated.”

More people are also moving into flood-prone areas, which is further driving up the risk of losses. 

At this point, there’s no amount of mitigation that will reduce flood risk in the short-term, said Paul Bates at the University of Bristol, who also worked on the study.

“Instead, what you have to do is make yourself more resilient to floods, not increase the risk by building in flood prone areas,” he said.

And, try to make housing that can’t be moved more resilient and protected, too.  

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