Strategies to Improve the Success of Relocation from Flood Risk Zones in the Susquehanna Watershed

APA New York Upstate Chapter


Wednesday, April 25, 2018
10:30 a.m. - 11 a.m. EDT

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Community adaptation to climate change will increasingly involve moving at-risk populations out of unsafe, disturbance-prone areas. A number of converging factors make the strategy of relocation of populations from flood disturbance areas more likely. These factors include: the ongoing remapping of flood hazard zones by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that often involves the expansion of flood zones to include structures previously outside hazard areas; the rising cost of flood insurance; and the increasing frequency of large storm events causing catastrophic flooding. Property acquisition and relocation of homeowners seems an attractive and viable alternative to the repeated costly rebuilding of flood-damaged homes, especially as the risk for flood events increases. However, the strategy of relocation needs deeper investigation to understand its social, ecological, and economic impacts. Relocation can adversely affect socially vulnerable groups as they have less capacity to cope with disruption of their social networks and distancing from income generating activities (Marino, 2011; Meoni and Pesaro, 2008). Furthermore, there is some evidence that shows that risk may increase after relocation takes place, as vulnerable populations may move to other high risk areas where properties are more affordable. This presentation contributes to the current discourse on resolving the conflict between communities and rivers by examining the policy of relocation and how the process has unfolded in municipalities within the Susquehanna watershed. Our research team studies ways to understand and communicate flood risk and uncertainty. We explore mapping as a tool to help plan and prioritize areas for relocation by combining social vulnerability with environmental risk. In addition, we conduct interviews with stakeholders involved in the buyout process. Collectively, we use these methodologies to assess the effectiveness of the “buyout” option, to suggest strategies for improvement and ultimately to improve the relationship between people and rivers.


Jamie Vanucchi

Invited Speaker


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b Nechamen,