Homes are flooding outside FEMA’s 100-year flood zones, and racial inequality is showing through

When hurricanes and other extreme storms unleash downpours like Tropical Storm Beta has been doing in the South, the floodwater doesn’t always stay within the government’s flood risk zones.



a bridge over a body of water: Cars get stranded on high flood waters on Houston Ave. exit from interstate 45 during Tropical Storm Beta Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, in Houston.


© Marie D. De Jesús, Houston Chronicle / Staff Photographer

Cars get stranded on high flood waters on Houston Ave. exit from interstate 45 during Tropical Storm Beta Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, in Houston.


New research suggests that nearly twice as many properties are at risk from a 100-year flood today than the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood maps indicate.

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Unfortunately, many of the people living in those properties have no idea that their homes are at risk until the floodwaters rise.

I am a sociologist who works on disaster vulnerability. In a new study, I looked at the makeup of communities in Houston that aren’t in the 100-year flood zone, but that still flood. What I found tells

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Homes are flooding outside FEMA’s 100-year flood zones, and racial inequality is showing through

(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)

Kevin T. Smiley, Louisiana State University

(THE CONVERSATION) When hurricanes and other extreme storms unleash downpours like Tropical Storm Beta has been doing in the South, the floodwater doesn’t always stay within the government’s flood risk zones.

New research suggests that nearly twice as many properties are at risk from a 100-year flood today than the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood maps indicate.

Unfortunately, many of the people living in those properties have no idea that their homes are at risk until the floodwaters rise.

I am a sociologist who works on disaster vulnerability. In a new study, I looked at the makeup of communities in Houston that aren’t in the 100-year flood zone, but that still flood. What I found tells a story of racial disparities in the city. Research in other cities

Read More Read more