NEW: Tidal Flooding Will Have Major Impact on RI’s Most Valuable Properties, Says New National Study

Tuesday, June 19, 2018


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Tidal flooding will have major impact on R.I.'s most valuable homes, says new national study

A new study released by the Union of Concerned Scientists Monday shows that thousands of Rhode Island's most prized coastal real estate properties will soon be at risk of tidal flooding, which would have a devastating impact in a state so heavily reliant on its coast.

According to the UCS data, the risk is imminent and fast-growing, with flooding coming not just from storms and heavy rain but instead just from normal high tide.

Hundreds of US coastal communities will soon face chronic, disruptive flooding that directly affects people's homes, lives, and properties.

Rhode Island in Focus

The study's "high level" estimate shows that by 2030, more than 400 Rhode Island properties worth collectively just under $300 million will be at risk of flooding or complete destruction.

As time goes on, projections become increasingly grim. Just 30 years later in 2060, that number more than triples to just around 2,000 RI properties, valued at over $1 billion.

By the end of the century, the high estimate shows over 6,600 properties valued at more than $3.6 billion will be at risk, affecting just under 13,000 people in the state.

Big Financial Impact

From an economic standpoint, the state stands to lose out on millions in property tax should these projections come to pass.

Based on the above figures, $3.8 million in property taxes will be at risk in the year 2030. This increases to more than $15 million in 2060 and nearly $48 million in 2100.

Coastal properties, especially those with water views, have long been the most-coveted, with property prices and taxes historically only within the range of the extremely wealthy. A new Bloomberg report shows that trend may have come to an end as home buyers begin to take flooding and other natural threats into account.

According to Bloomberg, in the decade from 2007 to 2017, price growth nationwide for coastal houses at risk of flooding has slowed compared to areas with a lower risk. Experts believe this change is caused by buyers and real estate agents registering the threats of flooding and natural disasters. 

A similar trend in the Rhode Island real estate market could have further serious impacts on the state's economy.

The numbers provided by the UCS are for property values only, and do not take into account the undoubtedly significant impact on coastal ecosystems, habitats, tourism, and coastal businesses.

National Level:

According to the UCS:

- More than 300,000 of today's coastal homes, with a collective market value of about $117.5 billion today, are at risk of chronic inundation in 2045—a timeframe that falls within the lifespan of a 30-year mortgage issued today. Approximately 14,000 coastal commercial properties, currently assessed at a value of roughly $18.5 billion, are also at risk during that timeframe.

- By the end of the century, homes and commercial properties currently worth more than $1 trillion could be at risk. This includes as many as 2.4 million homes—the rough equivalent of all the homes in Los Angeles and Houston combined—that are collectively valued today at approximately $912 billion.    

More information on the study and its findings can be found on the Union of Concerned Scientists' website.


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