Aerial photo of N. Topsail Beach, N.C., Monday, Oct. 10, 2016, after Hurricane Matthew passed through the area. Photo by Ken Blevins/StarNews.

Rich Residents Build Defenses Against Rising Seas; Poor Ones Leave

Socioeconomic status and racial diversity affect how different communities adapt to a changing climate

Storm surge and rising seas threaten homes across coastal communities. But a community’s response to those risks is influenced by multiple factors, including geography, property values, socioeconomic status and racial diversity.

Those are the core findings of a new study from the University of Delaware and Harvard University examining how and where different adaptation strategies are deployed along the North Carolina coast, one of the nation’s most exposed shorelines to climate risks.

Among other things, researchers found that three primary adaptation strategies—coastal armoring, beach nourishment and home buyouts—are not evenly deployed along the shore, raising important questions about equity between high- and low-income areas.

Predominantly white communities with more expensive homes are more likely to build sea walls and pump sand onto their beaches, while lower-income, racially diverse communities are often targeted for buyouts when funds are available.

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