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USA - Riskiest Spot for Rising Seas Is 50 Miles From the Ocean

A new FEMA index considers socioeconomic factors in evaluating community disaster vulnerability

The county most at risk for coastal flooding is not in Florida, North Carolina or New Jersey, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

It’s not even on a coast.

It’s Cowlitz County, Wash., population 102,000, about 50 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean on the Columbia River. The ranking comes from a groundbreaking analysis by FEMA that measures disaster risk in a new way.

Instead of analyzing only the likelihood of a disaster and the damage it would cause, FEMA also assessed 78 socioeconomic factors such as a community’s poverty rate, racial composition and church membership, and the percentage of residents with high-speed internet.

Those factors are important—and often overlooked—because they determine how much a community will suffer from a disaster and how quickly and thoroughly it will recover.

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