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Flood risk will affect Black Americans at a higher rate

Flood risk will affect Black Americans at a higher rate

A new study shows that floods will be more common in the coming decades as climate change continues to increase the number of natural disasters. 

What You Need to Know

  • A new study shows that floods are most likely to affect Black Americans over the next few decades.
  • The study, published in Nature Climate Change on Monday, found the cost of severe floods could increase 26.4% by 2050
  • The threat of severe flooding is increasing in areas of the Deep South, which include large Black populations.
  • Monday’s study highlighted the need to modernize infrastructure in order to be prepared for more severe weather events.


The study was published in the journal. Nature Climate ChangeMonday’s report found that the United States is facing a 26.4% rise in flood-related costs by 2050. This will increase from $32 billion to $43 billion over the next few decades.

Researchers found that the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts will likely be the most affected by floods caused by a changing climate, which can be made more dangerous by inaccurate models. 

The greatest flood risks are to predominantly white communities in the Appalachian region with high poverty rates, especially in West Virginia. The studys model found  a largely different trend in demography compared with who bears present-day risk. 

According to the authors, areas with high Black population are found in the Deep South. These areas are located in the exact locations where climate change will increase flood risk. Both urban and rural areas from Texas to Virginia are home to predominantly Black communities. They are expected to experience at least a 20% increase of flood risk in the next 30 years. 

Flooding risks will likely increase by 40% in regions where at least one fifth of the population is Black. 

A warming climate is one of the factors that has led to the shift in risk. Experts say that the country’s average temperature has increased by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century, which has contributed to flood-causing events such as heavy rainfall, early snowmelt, and flash food. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conducted a 2016 study that found that climate change caused by humans had increased the amount of torrential rains in Louisiana by at most 40%. The state’s Black population was particularly affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when it swept through New Orleans. 

According to a June 2020 piece published on Scientific AmericanFour of the seven ZIP Codes that suffered the most from the storm were predominantly Black communities. 

Monday’s study stressed the need for infrastructure improvements to better prepare for severe weather events. The study also noted that the United States is lacking in flood resilience. The authors of the study encourage both local and federal governments to reexamine flood regulations and zones in accordance with the most recent data before more disasters occur.

Biden’s administration has at least taken one step towards mitigating the effects of climate change. 

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Monday saw new guidelines from the Department of Housing and Urban Development regarding the disbursal of $2 Billion in disaster-relief grant block grants. They placed a strong emphasis on climate change mitigation and equity for those communities that are least served.

The Federal Register published the new guidelines Monday, which outline specific priorities for state and local agencies receiving Community Development Block Grants.

The funds were allocated lastyear to help with relief efforts for natural disasters that occurred in 2020 in 10 US states and territories. These include wildfires in California and a Michigan dam collapse, Hurricane Zeta in Mississippi and earthquakes and Tropical Storm Isaias at Puerto Rico.

Block grants have traditionally been flexible enough for local authorities and recipients to choose where to direct the funds based on the nature of the disaster. For example, wildfires tend not to cause significant damage to buildings and residences. However, storms and hurricanes often do the greatest damage to infrastructure such bridges, sewers, and electrical grids.

HUD will preserve most of the flexibility, but HUD has now directed recipients agencies to prioritise long-term environmental resilience as well as serving traditionally marginalized communities. These guidelines were widely expected. HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge addressed these priorities when grants were announced in November 2021.

Fudge stated that the funds would be disbursed to reflect President Joe Biden’s emphasis on climate justice in hard-hit communities and “building long-term, inclusive resilience to the effects of climate change, especially for underserved or marginalized communities.”

Michael Burns, a spokesperson for HUD, stated that the agency is trying to define underserved areas as areas that were economically damaged before the disaster, and populations that have been denied full participation in economic, civic, and social life.

This report was compiled by the Associated Press. 

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