Anything beyond what we call ‘code-plus’ is for the most part not happening.”

Coastal homes aren’t ready for climate change – study

E&E News | Daniel Cusick

Coastal property owners are failing to take even basic steps to protect their homes against sea-level rise and hurricanes, even as climate change increases the risk that coastal homes will be damaged by rising tides and storm surges, according to new research. The study from the University of Notre Dame, published in the journal Climatic Change, also found that disaster preparedness research on the “structural vulnerabilities” of coastal homes is scarce. It suggested more attention should be paid to simple, often voluntary measures that homeowners can take to mitigate against future damage from climate events. “Absent strict, enforceable regulations mandating retrofitting of existing homes or major changes in homeowner insurance requirements, coastal resilience in a changing climate will largely reflect private, voluntary decisions of millions of individuals,” the researchers found. […] Researchers surveyed 662 owners of coastal properties in and around Wrightsville Beach, N.C., one of the most densely developed shorelines on the south Atlantic coast. The survey boundary did not extend into urban areas like Wilmington or other riverine communities that were badly flooded during Hurricane Florence. Yet even among these properties most exposed to hurricanes, researchers found that, on average, homes are “minimally protected” against climate risks. Moreover, homeowners had taken “few actions to address the structural vulnerabilities” of their properties, and many were not considering taking action in the future. Researchers found that more than a third of all surveyed property owners “have not taken a single action to improve their home’s resilience.” Between 30% and 50% did not know the impact ratings for their homes’ doors and windows, critical information to determining a property’s ability to withstand airborne debris. “Even with all the learning we’ve had [from previous storms], people do not take voluntary precautions,” Kijewski-Correa said in an interview. “If it’s mandated, it’s going to get done. But anything beyond that, what we call ‘code-plus,’ is for the most part not happening.”