/Mississippi lost over $263 million in home values due to rising sea levels, national study finds

Mississippi lost over $263 million in home values due to rising sea levels, national study finds

Steven McAlpine of First Street Foundation, Head of Data Science, stated that the average home in Bay St. Louis would have a value of 49 percent higher if there was no tidal flooding, and in Kiln it would be worth 41 percent more. “These are the most affected neighborhoods in Mississippi, because homes and roads located at low elevations and sea-level rising is increasing flood frequency along Jourdan river.” First Street Foundation published a report Dec. 3 that examined the effects of sea levels on flooding in Mississippi from 2005 to 2017. Flood iQ is a tool that allows Gulf Coast residents to look up their address and see how much their home has suffered. Forecasts of how much value homes will lose over the next 15-years are also included in Flood iQ. “Qualitatively it’s understanding how neighborhoods start to get this reputation for being flooded areas,” Dr. Jeremy Porter, a Columbia University professor and co-author of the study, said. McAlpine, Porter and tens thousands of tidal gauge readings were used to help them find the areas. They were able to pinpoint exactly where floodwater landed on roads or properties using high-precision data. After adjusting for factors such as the local housing market, economic recession, and natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina or the Deepwater Horizon oil leak, they compared the sales of properties to homes without flood risk. Because of the transportation effects and debris on roads, road flooding was more damaging than home flooding, according to the research duo. WLOX reported that school buses in Bay St. Louis were unable to get to certain areas due flooding in October. When Wu was asked if she was surprised at the results, Dr. Wei Wu of The University of Southern Mississippi’s associate professor of Landscape Ecology said that “not really.” Wu stated via e-mail, “We know that sea-level rising will negatively impact natural ecosystems as well as human communities.” It is not only sea level rising, but also an acceleration of sea-level rise (increase in sea level rate) that will impact flooding in the future. This may be something people might not have expected based on previous experiences. “This study clearly shows that climate change and sea-level rise are affecting us now, not 50+ years later.” Mark Cumbest finished his 13-year tenure as Chairman of Mississippi Real Estate Commission. He has owned and operated his own Moss Point realty business for over 40 years. While he had never heard of homes losing value due to flooding, he said flood insurance could be a concern. Cumbest stated that he has not seen evidence that rising sea levels have had an effect on the real-estate market. “The problem that we’re facing year in and year out are the flood insurance availability, and flood insurance cost,” Cumbest said. He also stated that uncertainty surrounding the National Flood Insurance Program, particularly while Congress waits to reauthorize it, can cause nervousness among lenders and disrupt the housing markets. Cumbest, a Jackson County seventh-generation resident, was not aware of sea level rising and was skeptical about global warming. He said that he was not convinced that global warming is a danger, but that he had not yet seen the report. He said that he saw some homes lose value over the study period but that it was due to the Deepwater Horizon oil leak. Cumbest stated that he cannot attribute any damage to the (rising ocean levels). According to Governing.com analysis, the US population in flood-prone regions increased between 2000 and 2016. However, the Mississippi coastal population decreased. Harrison County saw the largest loss with a -9.3 percentage change. However, the population of the counties just north of it has increased over that time: Stone (+26.2%), George (+26.1%), and Pearl River (+2.1%). Wu expressed doubt that this trend would continue and expressed concern about the number Mississippi residents living along the Gulf Coast. She said that the decline in Gulf Coast population is not likely to continue. People are drawn to the coasts all over the world. Increased flooding hazards are a threat to coastal residents, their property, and their mental as well as physical health due to rising sea levels and frequent tropical storms. This is something we are concerned about.”