More Americans are moving into hurricane zones even as climate risks mount – The Washington Post

by | Oct 1, 2022 | Climate Change

Listen8 minComment on this storyCommentGift ArticleOfficials in Charleston, S.C., are clear that climate change poses an existential threat. They are working on plans to build a $1.1 billion sea wall that would protect historic homes from the increasingly powerful hurricanes that have repeatedly threatened the booming city. And in his state of the city address this year, mayor John Tecklenburg said Charleston must “rezone every inch of our city” to put an end to development in flood-prone areas.But even as it works to fortify itself, Charleston — which was lashed by wind and rain from Hurricane Ian on Friday — has greenlit plans for a more-than 9,000 acre residential and commercial development that, environmental advocates say, would locate about half of its homes in a flood plain.The dilemma faced in Charleston, whose population grew 25 percent from 2010 to 2020, can be found throughout the Southeast. Many cities and counties in the region are confronting the reality that rapid development has made them more vulnerable to hurricanes, storms and tidal flooding caused by sea level rise. The region has grown quickly, though unevenly, over the past decade and is expected to add millions more people in the decades ahead. As wetlands and forests have given way to homes and hotels, there is a lot more property — and millions more people — directly in harm’s way.Maps show how millions of people have moved into Hurricane Ian’s pathIn Florida, the full extent of the destruction from Ian, which made its first U.S. landfall near Fort Myers as a Category 4 storm, is still unclear. But it is expected to be more devastating than many comparable storms because of its size and all that was built in its path. From 1970 to 2020, census records show, the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area grew an astounding 623 percent, to more than 760,000 people.Ian came ashore in Florida as one of the strongest storms ever to strike the state, causing a storm surge of over 12 feet in Fort Myers, and knocking out power to more than 2 million people. The southwest suffered widespread destruction, with houses washed off their foundations, bridges destroyed and massive flooding.From 2010 to 2020, census records show, the top two fastest-growing metro areas in the United States were The Villages, a retirement community in Florida, and Myrtle Beach, S.C. Over that same period, the rate of population growth in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee exceeded the nationa …

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