Report: Entire NC Communities Will Be Affected By Sea-Level Rise

Jun 18, 2018

File photo from 2015 of a house on Nags Head. By the year 2045, 2,000 homes in Nags Head and Hatteras can expect flooding every other week, according to the non-profit Union of Concerned Scientists.
Credit Dave DeWitt / WUNC

In 30 years, more than 15,000 North Carolina homes will be chronically inundated, meaning they're flooded about every other week, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. The nonprofit advocacy group released a report today showing where and when sea-level rise is likely to impact residents' daily lives.

Climate Analyst Erika Spanger-Siegfried said entire communities will be affected.

"The properties that face chronic inundation are also properties that are providing significant contributions to the local tax base,” Spanger-Siegfried said. “And, the local tax base, as we know, is critical for providing local services. So we wanted to provide people enough information to start to explore the local implications themselves."

The interactive map below shows which North Carolina ZIP codes have the most homes at risk by 2030, as well as the total value of those homes. Data from Union of Concerned Scientists, graphics by Jason deBruyn.

By the year 2045, about 2,000 homes in Nags Head and Hatteras can expect flooding every other week, , if the data are sorted by county subdivision, according to the report. The union analyzed climate and real estate data to determine where and when sea-level rise is likely to become a daily problem, according to Spanger-Sigfried.

"Nobody wants to be blind-sided," she said. "Folks want to know their risks if they're facing this kind of flooding, especially where their greatest asset is concerned. And, in most people's case, their home is their greatest asset."

Spanger-Sigfriend urged low-lying coastal communities to invest in thorough mapping to guide long-term planning, flood prevention measures and state and federal grant requests.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has an interactive map on its website, showing the impacts of coastal flooding.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the time period of affected properties in the map. The data show impacted properties for the year 2030.