Report: Florida Has Most Homes At Risk In Lower 48 States From Rising Seas

Jun 18, 2018

A new report estimates $351 billion worth of Florida homes will be at risk from tidal flooding by the end of the century, including a significant portion in First Coast coastal communities.

The study was published Monday by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Within the next 30 years alone, worsening tidal flooding could put as many as 311,000 homes in Florida, with a collective market value of about $117.5 billion today, at risk of chronic flooding, according to the report.

Also by the end of the century, businesses and as many as 2.4 million homes homes currently worth more than $1 trillion could be at risk.

The analysis used property data from the online real estate company Zillow combined with a peer-reviewed methodology developed by UCS for assessing areas at risk of frequent flooding. Scientists used three sea level rise scenarios developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

“Unfortunately, in the years ahead many coastal communities will face declining property values as risk perceptions catch up with reality,” said Rachel Cleetus, an economist and policy director for the Climate and Energy Program at UCS, as well as a co-author of the report.

The report includes a risk assessment for a variety of coastal ZIP codes. WJCT News looked at several First Coast area ZIP codes under the report's “moderate” sea level rise findings:

  • In Fernandina Beach, ZIP code 32034: by 2100, 1,590 of today's homes are at risk of becoming chronically inundated. Today those homes are worth a collective $566,622,000; they house an estimated 2,686 people; and they contribute $7,975,225 to the local property tax base, according to the report.
  • In Jacksonville Beach, ZIP code 32250: By 2100, 1,861 of today's homes are at risk of becoming chronically inundated. Today those homes are worth a collective $586,407,000; they house an estimated 3,426 people; and contribute $7,689,325 to the local property tax base.
  • In Ponte Vedra Beach, ZIP code 32082: By 2100, 5,392 of today's homes are at risk of becoming chronically inundated.  Today those homes are worth a collective $2,518,500,000; they house an estimated 10,403 people; and they contribute $31,300,236 to the local property tax base.

Florida’s municipalities could take a large hit to their property tax revenues by 2045, and the state will be the greatest hit of all coastal states in the lower 48 by the end of the century, according to the report.

Credit Union of Concerned Scientists

“For some communities, the potential hit to the local tax base could be staggering,” said Kristy Dahl, senior climate scientist at UCS and report co-author. 

According to the analysis, states with the most homes at risk by the end of the century are Florida, with about 1 million homes — or more than 10 percent of the state’s current residential properties — New Jersey, with 250,000 homes, and New York, with 143,000 homes.

States that could lose the most in home property values by 2100 are Florida at $351 billion, New Jersey at $108 billion, and New York at nearly $100 billion, according to the report.

Credit Union of Concerned Scientists

The mapping feature of the study is available here.

The full report can be read here.

6/18/2019 Editor’s Note: While doing a routine fact check of this story in relation to another project, we came across some percentages we could not independently verify from the original information source. Those percentages have been removed from this story.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

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