Home Relocations Reduce Flood Risk

Kinston, a city of about 20,000 in Lenoir County, North Carolina, suffered repeated flood losses during the 1990s. Hurricanes Fran, Dennis, and Floyd damaged or flooded more than 75 percent of the county’s homes.

The City of Kinston’s strategy to improve community resilience included the purchase of the majority of homes in the Neuse River floodplain and relocation of 97 percent of those residents within the tax district, often to superior housing. Whole neighborhoods were relocated to higher ground. The purchase of the first 100 homes saved approximately $6 million in avoided flood losses during the next big storm.

A total of 1,600 homes have been purchased, leaving 73 percent of the city’s floodplain as open space. Restoration of the floodplain has been passive; the land has been allowed to revert to its natural state, and the floodplain is now primarily forested. Several programs made this possible, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, Housing and Urban Development’s Disaster Recovery Initiative, and North Carolina’s State Acquisition and Relocation Fund.

More Information: coast.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/training/kinston-flood-risk

Partners: City of Kinston, Federal Emergency Management Agency, University of North Carolina