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losses. Some projects elevate properties, build flood barriers, or strengthen roofs and windows against high winds. Others purchase properties subject to repeated damage and allow owners to move.
But coastline communities face more storm threats in the future.
Global warming from human-generated greenhouse gases is melting polar ice and elevating sea levels at an increasing pace, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
That amplifies storm surges and other flooding. Also, some climate models used by scientists predict stronger, more frequent hurricanes as another effect of global warming in coming decades.
“There will be some real challenges for coastal towns,” predicted Jamie Kruse, director of the Center for Natural Hazards Research at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. “We’ll see some of these homes that are part of their tax base becoming unlivable.”
Hazard researchers said they see nothing in the near term to reverse the trend toward bigger
storm losses. As a stopgap, communities should cease building new high-rises on the oceanfront, said Robert Young, director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina.
He said big changes probably will not happen unless multiple giant storms overwhelm federal and state budgets.
“The reason why this development still continues is that people are making money doing it,” he said. “Communities are still increasing their tax base — and that’s what politicians like.”