U.S. policymakers used to believe that relocating entire flood-prone communities away from vulnerable areas was too extreme a measure. That view is changing.
There is a growing acceptance that rebuilding over and over after successive floods makes little sense. The Federal Emergency Management Agency recently detailed a new program that will be funded in the billions of dollars to pay for large-scale relocation nationwide.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has started a similar program, which followed a decision by the Army Corps of Engineers to prompt local officials to force people out of their at-risk homes or forfeit federal funds for flood-protection projects.
State governments are making similar moves. New Jersey has bought and torn down 700 flood-prone homes and made offers on hundreds more. California has told local governments to begin planning for relocation of homes away from the coast. North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas have said they want to use federal money to fund the purchasing and demolishing of homes exposed to storms.