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MAP: FEMA Is Buying Out Flood-Prone Homes, But Not Where You Might Expect

A flooded street in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In the summer of 2008, the city ordered evacuations as Cedar River rose.
A flooded street in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In the summer of 2008, the city ordered evacuations as Cedar River rose.

The NPR Cities Project has been reporting on the options for coastal communities in light of rising sea levels. Cities might choose to armor the shoreline with floodwalls, or they might opt for what's sometimes called a "managed retreat."

Since Superstorm Sandy, for example, both New York and New Jersey have been buying out residents whose homes are at risk of flooding again and again. In many cases, the money for buyouts like these comes from a mix of financing.

On Staten Island, the state is cooperating with New York City to buy and demolish homes in the Fox Beach neighborhood. New Jersey is using money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program has been financing buyouts of properties for years. NPR analyzed the records of more than 7,000 buyouts totaling more than $417 million over the past decade. What we found is that it's not just coastal disasters that are driving the buyouts. Many of the top states receiving money are not on the coasts. Much of the money has gone toward knocking down inland properties.

Here's our map showing that trend:

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