After the Flood, the Decision to Rebuild or Leave Permanently
As I write this, residents from flooded neighborhoods in eastern North Carolina are sitting in crowded high school gyms, staying at area motels, and bunked with family and friends. While Hurricane Matthew threw high winds and storm surge at coastal communities, devastating flooding came to inland communities. Rivers bulged over their banks, entering homes and covering roads in a growing mass of moving water.
When the floodwaters recede, each household will face a difficult decision: tear down the soaked drywall and rebuild the home, perhaps higher than before, or sell the property and move on. After Hurricane Floyd in 1999, some entire communities faced this decision.
For the past few months, I have been researching two African-American communities where different decisions — to stay or to go — were made by or for an entire community. In Kinston, the town pursued a buyout program in which 97% of residents in a floodprone African-American neighborhood known as Lincoln City sold their property to the city and moved. In Princeville, the nation’s first town chartered by blacks, the town decided to rebuild a levy instead of accept buyouts.
About the Author
Amanda Martin, AICP, is a PhD student at UNC Chapel Hill. Originally from Boston, she has worked in policy and planning in Washington, D.C., northern Nevada, New Orleans, and Rhode Island. Amanda’s doctoral research explores how regions or neighborhoods that receive major private or public investment can share that prosperity with low-income communities and communities of color. Her dissertation will answer this question in the context of coastal communities’ recovery from major storms. Amanda holds degrees from Harvard and MIT, and you can follow her tweets on these topics @bornonland
Photo credit: Ryan Johnson/Creative Commons