A Climate Disaster Hits Home

May 21, 2020

I’m working on a piece, as it happens, examining the growing realization that the US real estate market is gravely at risk due to steadily increasing climate impacts.
In areas exposed to coastal flooding and extreme rains, like Houston, a series of “500 year” storms is reducing value in large areas of real estate. Same for places like California and the Mountain west due to increased fire.

Midwesterners who may have considered themselves immune from such high profile events might have been shaken the other day by the consecutive failure of two dams in Midland County, MI, which will have enormous knock-on effects in local real estate markets, for “lake front” properties that now have no lake, and downstream properties that have now had 2 damaging floods in just 4 years.
The value lost in these homes can’t be recovered just by rebuilding and cleanup.
In the case of the lakes, it’s finding the capital to rebuild dams, which doesn’t sound like an easy, quick slam dunk to me.
For the downstream houses, the value is gone and will never return.

Massive loss of tax evaluation for villages, city, and county.

Kicker is that there are thousands of dams like this around the midwest, mostly nearing a hundred years old, and generally neglected, ignored, and falling into disrepair.
In the face of steadily increasing, climate driven extreme rain events, they are every one of them ticking time bombs.

Washington Post:

“This is a solidly middle to upper class town because of the Dow plant here,” Peter Sinclair, a Midland resident who is a videographer for Yale Climate Connections, said in an interview. He said a 2017 seasonal flood event, combined with this disaster, may cause property values to decline. This includes expensive lakefront property, since these lakes are now being drained by the flooding.

Sinclair, who is on the dry side of Midland and is sheltering family members who live closer to the flood-affected areas, says this event illustrates what climate scientists have been warning about for years.

“[There is the] Larger issue of aging infrastructure plus incremental climate change, this is a point that all the scientists make that the change is gradual, gradual, gradual until the infrastructure fails.”


3 Responses to “A Climate Disaster Hits Home”

  1. redskylite Says:

    This may well become our new normal in the age of severe rain events and droughts.

    “More dams will collapse as aging infrastructure can’t keep up with climate change”

    Aging dams in the U.S. will increasingly fail and cause death and environmental destruction as climate change makes extreme precipitation and storms more frequent, scientists warn.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/21/more-dams-will-collapse-as-aging-infrastructure-cant-keep-up-with-climate-change.html

  2. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    There’s a death spiral from loss of tax base after storm/flood/wildfire passes through a community, and federal emergency relief money can’t keep up with the increasing frequency and size of disasters.


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