Armed forces working to remove water from basement
Members of the armed forces work to remove water from a flooded basement during a Hurricane Sandy disaster relief effort in 2012.

In the wake of devastating storms like Sandy and Katrina, it’s getting much more expensive to insure homes in flood zones.

Vernon: “If you do not make your home more flood-resistant, your flood insurance premiums are going up, sometimes drastically.”

That’s Michael Vernon. He lives near Norfolk, Virginia. He says the rising cost of insurance there can make homes nearly impossible to sell.

Vernon: “When you go through certain areas that are flood-prone and you see green moss around the bottom of the house, and you can see that it’s vacant and there’s a bank sign in the yard, you know it was another sad story.”

In response to rising insurance prices, some residents are making modifications to their homes. Vernon owns a company that helps them do that.

For many, this means relocating furnaces and water heaters or adding new types of drainage. A few homes require more drastic changes.

Vernon: “So for example, if the house has a basement, the only way to mitigate is to get rid of the basement.”

Many people may resist the idea of filling in their basement with sand or gravel. But when the alternatives are skyrocketing premiums or a house that won’t sell, Vernon says people often do what it takes to survive in a flood zone.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Bruce Lieberman

Bruce Lieberman, a long-time journalist, has covered climate change science, policy, and politics for nearly two decades. A newspaper reporter for 20 years, Bruce worked for The San Diego Union-Tribune...