Built to Last
Nov 9, 2022
Season 2 | Episode 4

Built to Last

What will it take to stay in the places we love?

Despite the dire predictions for the future of South Florida, people really want to stay here, for as long as they can. This episode, we’re exploring the solutions that allow people to keep living in the places they love. 

Our first stop: Richburg, South Carolina, where buildings get destroyed, for research. It’s where the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, or IBHS, is conducting research on how to make our homes and buildings more resilient to the elements. We’re trying to make sure that we are building strong and effective and keeping Mother Nature out,” said Anne Cope, IBHS’ chief engineer.  

Since 2020, much of Florida has required all new construction to meet IBHS’ highest standard of building — what they call FORTIFIED Gold. The standard includes things like sealed roofs, impact-resistant windows and doors, plus thicker exterior walls.

To see what these standards look like in real life, we leave the lab and head to Coconut Grove, a neighborhood in Miami, to check out Brad Herman’s house.

“If anybody doesn’t believe in sea level rise, come to Coconut Grove and see for yourself,” Herman said. After years of repetitive damage from storms and hurricanes, he knew he needed to do something to his house if he wanted to keep living there. You can’t stop water … you got to figure out a way to live with it,” he said. So he hired a team of architects to turn his home into a beautiful above-ground bunker.

Michael Stavardis/Stephan Goettlicher

The first thing they did was elevate the entire house 18 feet above sea level. Then, they installed IBHS-approved features, like hurricane impact windows. 

In this house, Herman is about as safe as anyone can be. But he knows that long term it won’t mean much if the rest of his community cannot also retrofit their homes. “I could raise my seawall, but how about everybody else who’s here for the next 20 miles around me?” he said. “Not going to happen.”

Later in the episode, we head down to the Florida Keys, a place that’s even more vulnerable than Miami, but is often looked to as a model of resilience.

How We Survive Season 2 Episode 4 Transcript

Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.

Amy Scott: It’s 5am in Richburg, South Carolina, still dark out. And I’m standing outside a fence, watching a wooden shed burned to the ground.

Anne Cope: We’re in crispy mode now. We got all the crackles going on.

Amy Scott: This is Dr. Anne Cope. She’s a structural engineer and she – or her team anyway – started this fire.

Anne Cope: There we go. Big flame right there.

Amy Scott: Yeah, I’m stepping back too. It’s getting hot.

Amy Scott: We watch as the flames engulf the roof and siding, and the glowing skeleton of the frame begins to appear.

Amy Scott: We’re looking at collapse pretty soon here. The roof’s totally gone.

Amy Scott: It’s super eerie out here. That roar you hear over the crackle of flames is a wall of fans producing a 35 mile per hour wind. Firefighters are standing by as people in protective gear scurry around the shed, checking foil covered heat sensors and taking video. So yeah, this is no accident.

Anne Cope: I’ve actually lost count on how many houses have been destroyed in the name of science.

Amy Scott: I’m at a research lab run by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, IBHS for short. It’s a nonprofit funded by the insurance industry that studies how to make our homes and buildings more resilient to the elements. Anne is the chief engineer. Today her team is testing a very real and very scary scenario. Twenty feet away from that burning shed is an actual house. Don’t worry, it’s empty.

Anne Cope: What we’re testing here in the wildfire is how much of a threat is that to your actual home if that shed catches on fire in a wildland fire event.

Amy Scott: What they learn could help determine how far apart buildings need to be spaced to prevent such a fire from spreading. Last year’s Marshall fire in a densely built suburb of Denver destroyed more than a thousand homes and showed how quickly a fire can jump from building to building, especially in dry, windy conditions.

Anne Cope: We know that 10 feet apart is a really bad spacing because they’re very close together. But what about 20? What about 30? Like, where’s the good trade off sweet spot? That’s something that we’ll find from this group of experiments.

Amy Scott: About 45 minutes after this test fire started, it’s over.

Amy Scott: So now we’re looking at just a smoldering pile of rubble. That little shed. I feel sad for the shed.

Amy Scott: Fire isn’t the only peril they’re concerned about here. Anne and her team recreate all kinds of natural disasters at the lab to test how different building methods and materials hold up. From hailstorms…

Anne Cope: This is our hail lab. We’ve got some machines in here that create the hail. Ah, there goes the air compressor.

Amy Scott: To hurricanes…

Anne Cope: You can actually recreate a category three hurricane in this facility using those fans.

Amy Scott: And the accompanying wind and rain.

Anne Cope: Alright, so watch your stuff, we’re gonna step over the pipes that deliver the rainwater.

Amy Scott: So out here at the lab, destroying buildings is part of the job.

Amy Scott: Are you a little bit gleeful about this sometimes?

Anne Cope: I am! You know, I mean, any person who has, as a kid, like, built themselves a great sandcastle on the beach and then stomped on it. You know, that’s me.

Amy Scott: And as fun as that sounds, the research Anne and her team do out here informs building codes across the country that could help save us from the threats that are coming.

Anne Cope: We’re trying to make sure that we are building strong and effective and keeping Mother Nature out. Build it right. Build it to last.

Amy Scott: I’m Amy Scott, welcome to How We Survive, the podcast for Marketplace where we’re following the money to the end of the world. This is Episode Four: Built to Last.

If we’re going to survive a warming planet, and the rising seas and stronger hurricanes that come with it, we’re gonna have to build for it. And if it wasn’t obvious from the last few episodes, people in South Florida really want to keep living there, even in the face of terrifying scientific predictions about the future. So this episode is about solutions and the ingenious ways people are trying to fortify their homes and communities against climate change. From a house that seems to defy gravity, to an island town that’s reimagining what life is going to look like with several more feet of water. We’re finding out what it will take to stay in the places we love.

If anyone has been following the research coming out of the IBHS Lab, it’s Florida. Since 2020, much of the state has required all new construction to meet IBHS’s highest standard of building – what they call FORTIFIED Gold. The standard includes things like sealed roofs, impact resistant windows and doors, and thicker exterior walls. To see what that looks like in real life, we took a trip to Coconut Grove, an upscale neighborhood in Miami that’s especially prone to flooding.

Amy Scott: There’s a little canal with boats on it.

Nav: Turn left and your destinations will be on the left.

Amy Scott: That’s it, huh?

Amy Scott: At the end of a canal, just 900 feet inland from Biscayne Bay, is one of the most amazing homes I’ve seen as a housing reporter – or ever, really.

Amy Scott: Wow, it is beautiful. Not what you picture when you picture a house on stilts.

Amy Scott: The stilts are steel columns, dozens of them supporting what looks like a floating house above. As we huff up the three flights of stairs to the main level, we meet Brad Herman on a covered deck standing by a bubbling koi pond.

Brad Herman: … one-woman show going on?

Amy Scott: No, I’ve got three women behind me. It’s a four woman show.

Amy Scott: Brad is the owner of this house. He’s a plastic surgeon, which shows when he points to a house across the street and critiques its placement of the front stairs.

Brad Herman: To me when I look at that house, it looks like a person with a huge nose.

Amy Scott: Now I’m like checking my nose.

Amy Scott: Brad has lived in this part of Coconut Grove for more than 30 years.

Brad Herman: An old, beautiful old Mediterranean home built in the 19, early 1900s.

Amy Scott: Like any tried and true Floridian, he’s experienced his share of hurricanes. And while his home was still standing after each storm…

Brad Herman: It just kept getting continuously damaged on the inside from flooding.

Amy Scott: Plus, it’s not like the water comes rushing through and then it’s over.

Brad Herman: The water just slowly rises. And it’s like a tsunami. Very slow, it moves in, and then it slowly over the next couple of hours recedes. Even though it’s slow moving water, salt water is so erosive that anything in the path just needs to be torn out. So if anybody doesn’t believe in sea level rise, come to Coconut Grove and see for yourself.

Amy Scott: After Hurricane Irma in 2017, Brad decided enough was enough.

Brad Herman: I love the area, and I didn’t want to leave the area. So there really were very few options. The best option was to bite the bullet, to tear the house down as much as I loved it and to start over again.

Amy Scott: He hired a firm called Brillhart Architecture.

Jake Brillhart: Jake Brillhart. I’m the architect.

Amy Scott: To design him a brand-new home from scratch, on the same piece of land.

Jake Brillhart: Brad called me one day and said, Hey, I think I got a project. When I got here, I said this house is incredible. We don’t want to tear this house down. And we’re walking around and Brad says, You know, look over here on the wall. And there was a line where the water was, which is about six feet high up on the wall.

Amy Scott: Six feet from the ground, you could still see the water stains Erma left behind.

Jake Brillhart: We wanted to save the house. There was nothing we could do. I mean, the water was coming. It was the third time it had come, and we could keep putting duct tape patching it up, but it would never be, quote unquote. sustainable or reliable for the future.

Amy Scott: The first decision Jake and his team made was to design Brad’s future home well above sea level, where it would be safe from flooding, storm surge and king tides.

Jake Brillhart: Architects aren’t magicians. We can’t build a wall around the house, keep the water out. We have to go up.

Amy Scott: So up they went. Way up.

Jake Brillhart: This house is now 18 feet above sea level.

Amy Scott: But you can’t just rise up above a storm. You have to prepare for the wind and flying debris. For strength, Jake and his team decided to use poured concrete for the walls and foundation of the home. For the ceilings, they chose ipe wood.

Jake Brillhart: Brazilian hardwood that’s credibly durable.

Amy Scott: And for the pool deck, volcanic lava stone.

Brad Herman: We use natural materials. They’re gonna last longer.

Amy Scott: Some parts of the house, including the garage, have flood vents built in. Think of them like little doggy doors. So if the house were to flood, which still doesn’t seem out of the question for Brad, the water has a natural path of escape.

Brad Herman: You can’t stop water. It’s gonna get in. So you got to figure out a way to live with it.

Amy Scott: In this house. Brad’s about as safe as anyone can be in a place scientists say will bear the brunt of rising seas in the coming years.

Caitlin Esch: How do you board up in a hurricane?

Brad Herman: You don’t. These, these windows are all hurricane impact windows. I think they shoot two by fours at the windows at like 200 miles an hour to see if they’ll break. And if they don’t, then they get the approval.

Amy Scott: Shout out to IBHS for that.

Caitlin Esch: So you’ll be able to ride out the next hurricane right here?

Brad Herman: Absolutely. I’m not going anywhere. Everybody’s coming here.

Amy Scott: 18 feet of elevation, hurricane impact indows, volcanic lava stone. This stuff isn’t cheap.

Amy Scott: Did insurance help pay for any of this?

Brad Herman: Well, there’s, unfortunately, there’s a cap on flood insurance. They will insure up to $250,000 for the building. And that’s it.

Amy Scott: Yeah. How much more than that did this cost?

Brad Herman: Well, I don’t know if you want to get into that. But it was substantial.

Amy Scott: Brad was a little shy about sharing the cost. But Jake’s firm estimates that a project of this scale couldn’t be done for less than three and a half million dollars. A price that’s gone up since Brad built, because of inflation and lingering supply chain issues from COVID. But even Brad knows no amount of money can stop the ocean from rising.

Hayley Hershman: You think you’ll stay in Miami forever?

Brad Herman: Well, I don’t know. That’s, that’s a hard question to answer.

Amy Scott: What would make you leave if you did?

Brad Herman: Rising sea water.

Amy Scott: So even you worry about it.

Brad Herman: I could raise my seawall but how about everybody else who’s here for the next 20 miles around me? Not gonna happen.

Amy Scott: Brad’s right. That’s not gonna happen. It’s too costly, and sea walls don’t really work with Miami’s porous limestone. Jake also acknowledges that this beautiful above ground bunker is not an attainable solution for most people.

Jake Brillhart: Even if the house makes it through the storm or, you know, is resilient and tough on its own, if nobody else can be here, what’s the point?

Amy Scott: To make the larger community safer from sea level rise, Miami is getting inspiration from a place that’s even more vulnerable.

Alison Higgins: It takes us 120 miles to get to the mainland. 130 miles is where our potable water lives. We experience 89 nuisance tides in a year.

Amy Scott: That’s after the break.


Amy Scott: There’s a phrase you hear over and over again when talking to folks about how Miami is going to adapt to sea level rise, build like the keys. It’s part of Miami Dade County’s official sea level rise strategy, and it refers to the Florida Keys. The low-lying chain of islands that jut out into the Atlantic Ocean off of Florida’s southernmost tip.

Amy Scott: When you hear that phrase, “build like the keys”, what does that mean to you?

Rhonda Haag: I believe it means that, you know, elevate their homes. We’ve had, we’ve been elevating our homes since 1975.

Amy Scott: This is Rhonda Haag, the chief resilience officer for Monroe County, the county that encompasses all of the Florida Keys. In Monroe County, the lowest floors of new homes and commercial structures must be at least one foot above the level where the water might reach in a serious flood. But Rhonda says the county is building two or three feet higher than code, so that down the line they don’t have to raise infrastructure yet again.

Rhonda Haag: Like with our fire stations, our new fire stations that are going up, we don’t build, elevate them just to deal with the existing you know, storm flooding. We build them to make sure they’re going to be high and dry for the next 50 years.

Amy Scott: If Miami is going to build like the keys, I wanted to see what that looked like.

Amy Scott: Welcome to Big Pine Key.

Amy Scott: So I drove 160 miles from Miami southwest on US Highway One.

Amy Scott: There are so many keys. Sugarloaf Key. Saddle Bunch Key. Boca Chica Key.

Amy Scott: All the way to Key West, the last island on the chain. Key West is a funky little place. The old town is full of colorful 19th century houses, with a mix of Victorian, French, and Caribbean influences, including Ernest Hemingway’s house, which is now a museum. There’s a thriving art scene. And though plenty of tourists and snowbirds, also a diehard year-round population of about 26,000.

Alison Higgins: Nobody throws more parades than Key West does. You don’t get more time to be more creative than here, than anywhere else.

Amy Scott: This is Alison Higgins. She’s a longtime resident of Key West.

Alison Higgins: We have the best bike and walking commuter rates in the nation. It’s just a very friendly place.

Amy Scott: Others I talked to echoed those sentiments, there is a very strong sense of community out here.

Virginia Wark: It’s that sort of land of misfit toys kind of thing. That’s what people love about the place.

Rhonda Haag: Think of the most beautiful place on earth, and you have the Florida key.

Mark Songer: We could not find another place that we wanted to live besides Key West, we’re connected to the community.

Virginia Wark: You had the people that move here, and they’re kind of like gypsies and artists and a little bit sort of, you know, a little crazy, but in the best possible way.

Amy Scott: Key West is also just beautiful. You’re never far from the ocean on this two by four-mile island. And as that ocean rises, living here will get harder. Key West sits less than five feet above sea level. And as we’ve said, by the end of the century, the waters around South Florida could rise by four, five, even six feet. But this small island of misfits is determined to stay.

Alison Higgins: Nobody’s in a hurry to leave anytime soon. There’s a lot of things we can do to keep it habitable for a lot more time.

Amy Scott: That’s Alison again. She’s actually the Sustainability Coordinator for the city of Key West. Her job is to help the island adapt for as long as it can.

Alison Higgins: I like to joke that I work with energy, water, solid waste and transportations, with a little bit of compost on the side.

Amy Scott: Alison is originally from California, but she’s lived here since 1997. The island is expensive, so finding an affordable place to live can be a challenge.

Alison Higgins: I myself lived on a 30-foot sailboat for 10 years.

Amy Scott: No way!

Alison Higgins: As one of my cost saving measures. Yeah.

Amy Scott: How did you like that?

Alison Higgins: I loved it.

Amy Scott: The boat was totally retrofitted. It ran off solar power and even had air conditioning. But it was on that boat she got a taste for how wild the climate around Florida can be. In the summer of 2005, she sailed her boat away from the island coast into open water.

Alison Higgins: She had gone through two or three minor hurricanes that had come by. It was actually Katrina, as it came through Florida, dipped in the middle of the night through the Everglades and tore her from her five anchors.

Amy Scott: Oh my gosh. And you weren’t there?

Alison Higgins: I was! Because there wasn’t even a tropical storm warning for us.

Amy Scott: Oh my gosh.

Alison Higgins: So it threw me under the US-1 bridge and broke off the mast.

Amy Scott: That must have been terrifying.

Alison Higgins: It really was. I call it my near life experience.

Amy Scott: Luckily, her boat popped up on the other side of the US-1 bridge, but then it got stuck in some mud far away from shore. Even then, though, she took it in good old-fashioned Key West stride.

Alison Higgins: Made an egg and cheese sandwich, because nobody was gonna be able to get me for another handful of hours.

Amy Scott: People are vulnerable out here. So vulnerable, in fact, the Keys can only house as many people as can safely evacuate within 24 hours on the one road out of here. It’s one of the reasons housing is so expensive. Many of their resources like drinking water come from the mainland, and the isolation makes the other threats more challenging. Like king tides. In the fall during the highest tides and the heaviest rain, several intersections regularly flood. So it’s at the same time both surprising and I guess obvious that Miami Dade County would look to the islands as a model of resilience. Key West is trying to elevate the whole community.

Alison Higgins: And so one of the big projects the city has been working on is to help our residents get out of the floodplain.

Amy Scott: They’re going to try to raise as many houses as they can.

Alison Higgins: So we’ve been working very closely with the county, we got a grant, we talked to a bunch of contractors, we made up a bunch of case studies of local elevation projects. As a result of that, about 10, 15 different property owners put in for a federal grant that we’re still waiting to hear on.

Amy Scott: And Alison is among those who applied for the grant.

Alison Higgins: I’m going to be my own guinea pig. When we bought – when we went looking for a house, I knew we needed to find someplace with a crawlspace, so they can easily get under it to lift.

Amy Scott: Here’s where I’m gonna give you the Home Elevation Guide For Dummies explanation of this. To elevate a typical house, the elevation company essentially digs tunnels underneath the foundation, and then slipped giant steel beams underneath. Then using a fancy hydraulic system, they lift the house up.

Alison Higgins: And it pretty much beautifully lifts all edges. They say you don’t even have to put your glassware away.

Amy Scott: Then they build some columns to set the house on, and voila! Easy, right? Alison estimates this takes about a month. But Key West is coming up against some challenges.

Alison Higgins: All of our historic buildings were fine. They’re on the highest land and they’re made out of wood, they are easy to move. You always hear about, you know, moving, you know old buildings around because they were built to do so. You took your building with you. Our biggest problem here is 70% of our homes were built before the 1970s when it was all about slab on grade concrete. It was cheap, and it was easy.

Amy Scott: That means most of the houses were built on concrete slabs with no space between the ground and the building. So the island’s biggest struggle right now is figuring out how to elevate those homes.

Alison Higgins: It’s very hard to, if you’re a slab on grade house, to get the big I-beams that they need to get under the house. So it makes those houses three to four times more expensive than the other ones.

Amy Scott: One really fascinating solution to elevating a home like this is to actually take the roof off and fill the inside of the house with three or four feet of concrete. We drive by one example.

Alison Higgins: They move their windows up, they move their doors up, they move the wall up and they put the new roof up higher. And then they just raise it from the inside because that’s easier and cheaper to do than lifting it in the first place.

Amy Scott: Cool, right? To elevate a home like Alison’s that can be raised the traditional way, she estimates it’d cost about $200,000.

Alison Higgins: The grant pays for 75% of that. So that’s the best deal you’re gonna get in town.

Amy Scott: If you can get it. The federal grant is competitive. Allison and her husband just found out they weren’t selected this year. She’s applying again for next year and says she expects a lot of her community will be doing the same in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. As for the other 25% that the grant wouldn’t cover?

Alison Higgins: We’ve already applied for a home equity loan, so that we’re ready when that time comes.

Amy Scott: But Alison’s house is just one of the two thousand the Army Corps of Engineers estimates need to be elevated on Key West. Plus, what good is the highest house if you’re stuck there? On my way back to Miami about 100 miles northeast…

Amy Scott: Big Torch Key and Little Torch Key. This may be my favorite so far: Ramrod Key.

Amy Scott: I stopped by Key Largo to meet Emilie Stewart. She lives in a neighborhood called Stillwright Point. Like many of the houses on her street, Emilie’s was built on stilts. The living space starts 14 feet up.

Emilie Stewart: We all live upstairs

Amy Scott: Makes sense. It makes perfect sense.

Emilie Stewart: It’s because of the flooding.

Amy Scott: On the back of Emilie’s house is a canal.

Amy Scott: Wow. Is that your boat lift there?

Emilie Stewart: Lift? Yes. Notice there’s no boat.

Amy Scott: There used to be?

Emilie Stewart: Yeah, there’s been a couple, but I’ll never have another one. They cost too much.

Amy Scott: On the front of Emilie’s house is the street that often becomes a canal. This neighborhood frequently floods during king tides in the fall.

Emilie Stewart: This never existed when I bought here in 1995. Sea level rise wasn’t to the extreme extent that it is now.

Amy Scott: Now it seems to get worse every few years. In 2015, the neighborhood flooded for about three weeks.

Emilie Stewart: And I would take off my shoes and I would carry them and I would walk up either to the corner to get groceries from Winn Dixie, or to have friends of mine pick me up and take me to whatever I wanted to go to. And that got really old really quick.

Amy Scott: Then a couple of years ago, Stillwright Point flooded for more than 90 days. She shows me a video of her driving through the murky water.

Emilie Stewart: So this is my street. This is super deep in here.

Amy Scott: Emilie bought a Jeep just so she could get through the water. But even then, she has to wash it every time she comes home to keep the saltwater from eating away at the undercarriage.

Emilie Stewart: There’s a little ritual for all of us in here, we try to consolidate trips. So if you need to go to the hair salon, you need to go to the bank, you need to go to the grocery, it’s all in one trip. And then when you come back in, it’s 20 to 40 minutes of washing up under your vehicle. And at least with the Jeep, it’s easy because it’s higher up and you know, you can get up under there. But some people have lawn sprinklers that go back and forth, and they slide that under the car, and they just, and they leave it for about 20 minutes and it sprays under the underside of the car.

Amy Scott: It’s an enormous pain. And Emilie’s lucky.

Emilie Stewart: We have one neighbor, who I think this year is 96 years old, has a helper that comes every day. And her helper has a little Honda hybrid, that she can’t get down the street because of the floodwaters. So she has to park up the street and walk the three quarters of mile to the 96-year-old’s house to be with her.

Amy Scott: The county has a plan to elevate the roads in Stillwright Point and build pumping stations to redirect the water. But it’s going to take years.

Emilie Stewart: Once these plans are in place, then we have to hunt for the financing to handle it. And our development has been estimated at 21 million.

Amy Scott: That estimate has since gone up to 26 million. And this is just one neighborhood on one Key.

Amy Scott: Where’s the money going to come from? I mean, do you have the resources?

Rhonda Haag: That’s the million – that’s the billion-dollar question.

Amy Scott: Here’s Rhonda Haag, the county resilience officer again.

Rhonda Haag: Absolutely not, we do not have the resources. We’re a small county of 75,000 residents, very small population.

Amy Scott: We know how to adapt communities to threats of sea level rise. But raising roads, elevating and flood proofing homes and other infrastructure is not cheap. Rhonda estimates they’ll need over $3 billion. They’re hoping for some federal assistance. But even if they get all the money they need, it wouldn’t be enough to save everything.

Rhonda Haag: We can only do so much. And so we may lose, start losing some of the coastal areas. I mean we will, they’re going to go underwater.

Amy Scott: Eventually the county will have to make some tough decisions about which roads and buildings get saved, like a three-mile stretch of road on Sugarloaf Key, an island near Key West that serves just a handful of houses.

Rhonda Haag: There’s some very beautiful homes at the end of that road. And we did say, you know, we’re not sure we’re going to be able to elevate that, because it’s very expensive. And we heard a wide range of responses.

Amy Scott: The county hasn’t made a decision yet. But some residents, as you might expect, were outraged by this prospect.

Rhonda Haag: But we heard from other residents actually that live on that road, who said, you know, we understand. It’s a very beautiful area. They’re very environmentally conscious. And they said, we don’t think this road should be raised either, necessarily. You know, we knew the risk when we moved here, we’ve been here a long time already. We love it as it is. And you know, maybe we can do enough to keep it going for the next 10 or 20 years.

Amy Scott: This kind of stopped me in my tracks, because people in the Keys are grappling with something that so many of us have never been forced to consider, but will increasingly have to, to relinquish the places we call home back to nature.

Rhonda Haag: I think long term managed retreat is something we need to look at.

Amy Scott: Because many of these solutions are just buying time.

Rhonda Haag: Some of the areas are just going to go back to nature. And that just is what it is. We have to deal with that.

Amy Scott: But for many people in South Florida, it’s actually not nature that poses the most immediate threat.

Alison Higgins: Long before actual effects of sea level rise, the insurance is going to be what drives normal people from being able to live down here.

Rhonda Haag: We’re doing what we can to keep insurance affordable. Might be a losing battle.

Amy Scott: That’s right, we’re going inside the deeply troubled insurance industry. Next time on How We Survive. Please keep those comments and questions coming. We really do read all of them. And we’re going to try to answer as many as we can in an upcoming episode. You can send a note or even a voice memo to survive@marketplace.org.

How We Survive is hosted by me, Amy Scott, Hayley Hershman and Grace Rubin produced this episode, with production help from Olivia Zhao. Caitlin Esch is our Senior Producer. Our editor is Jasmine Romero. Sound design by Chris Julin and audio engineering by Brian Allison. Special thanks this week to Nancy Klingener, Virginia Wark and Mark Songer. Our theme music is by Wonderly. Donna Tam is the Director of On Demand, Francesca Levy is the Executive Director. And Neil Scarborough is the General Manager of Marketplace.


The team

Amy Scott Host
Caitlin Esch Senior Producer
Hayley Hershman Producer
Grace Rubin Assistant Producer