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When it comes to rising sea levels, Charleston is on the front lines of the battlefield. Situated on the coast of South Carolina, the Holy City is notorious for flooding during storms that drop more than an inch of rain. Flooding throughout the city is made worse by incoming tides and rising sea levels.
Scientists from the nonprofit First Street Foundation have recently found that a massive $7.4 billion in home value has been lost due to rising sea levels from 2005-2017 in the five coastal states of Florida, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, and to no surprise, South Carolina.
According to research conducted by Steven A. McAlpine, Head of Data Science at First Street Foundation and Columbia University professor and statistical consultant Jeremy R. Porter, $465 million was lost in the Miami-Dade County real-estate market from 2005-2016 due to sea-level rise flooding.
So what do the numbers look like for South Carolina?
The total loss in South Carolina is over $1.1 billion and for the Charleston area specifically, that is over $266 million in total property value lost.
Previous academic studies have forecasted the negative impact sea level rise will have on the value of coastal properties in the future, but this study is the first to show that depreciation has already taken place. By looking at predictors of home value, such as square footage or proximity to amenities and economic trends like the 2008 recession, scientists were able to isolate the impact frequent tidal flooding, caused by sea level rise has had on home value.
“It is one thing to project what the future impacts of sea level rise could be, but it is quite another to know that the market has already responded negatively to this threat,” McAlpine told the First Street Foundation in a press release.
“The ability to pay for solutions to sea level rise is directly related to our ability to finance them. We do not want to see the beginning of a domino effect, where lost property value lowers the tax base and cripples our ability to finance solutions,” Porter stated in the press release.
This is the first academic paper to signify that sea level rise is directly to blame for a decrease in coastal home value and the role nearby flooding plays in that decrease.
“Flooding does not have to be a way of life for coastal communities. Cities can take measures to mitigate the impact and protect property values,” Matthew Eby, Executive Director at First Street Foundation said in the press release. “But without action, the rate of home value loss will only accelerate.”
For residents of Charleston, sea-level rise and flooding have always been persistent, but it is clear loss such as this that proves there is no time to wait when it comes to protecting our beloved coastal properties.