Erin Seekamp

NC - Seeking inclusive strategies to help coastal communities adjust, plan for sea-level rise

Recurring flood damage to homes and powerful storms that threaten infrastructure are realities facing many coastal North Carolina communities.

However, for three predominately African-American, rural communities near the coast, NC State researchers documented additional injustices that threaten the communities' ability to adapt to a changing climate.

In their study, the researchers reported on efforts to help these communities think about how to adapt to sea-level rise, flooding and other climate change impacts. They found that inequalities, economic limitations and injustices facing these communities can make residents feel vulnerable to climate impacts, and unheard in local planning and recovery efforts.

Their findings, published in the journal Land Use Policy, highlight the need for policymakers and researchers to work with affected coastal communities using strategies that are racially and economically inclusive.

"We need more research that uncovers climate injustices that exist in climate change adaption planning efforts, and that helps us to enhance community resilience," said study co-author Erin Seekamp, professor of parks, recreation and tourism management at NC State. "Many residents have strong social bonds and deep connections to coastal landscapes, and leaving isn't a desired option. Yet, human health issues are a concern as residents face mold and failing septic systems due to flooding and rising water tables."

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