The deadly devastation that Hurricane Ida left from the Gulf Coast to the mid-Atlantic coast is likely a preview of what’s to come, as climate change and rising sea levels converge to produce stronger and more frequent natural disasters—and that means homebuyers and homeowners need to be prepared.
Ida crashed into southern Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane on Sunday and weakened to a tropical depression as it moved over Mississippi, killing four people in those states. At least 29 people were killed as a result of the storm in New York and New Jersey and just outside of Philadelphia, according to reports. Homes were flooded and destroyed, roads submerged, power lines knocked out. Flash flooding caused chaos in the nation’s largest city, with homes in the New York region filling with water and tornadoes ripping through Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
“What we’re seeing is the rapid intensification of climate change impacts,” says Jesse Keenan, a real estate professor at Tulane University in New Orleans who studies climate change. He evacuated from the city due to Ida and plans to move to the Philadelphia region. “We can anticipate more frequent flooding and more severe flooding. We’re going to see new flood zones emerge that previously had not been flooded at least within memory.”
Poor building decisions, such as paving over wetlands, are worsening the problem, leading to more severe flooding in many areas when heavy rainfall occurs. This extreme weather is expected to push further inland, bringing more rain and flooding to communities that previously hadn’t been considered at risk. Eventually, if these disasters become more common as expected, it could lead to a shift in the most vulnerable real estate markets.