Delaware Public Media

Study: Thousands of Delaware properties prone to tidal flooding

Jun 20, 2018

A new study from the Union of Concerned Scientists says thousands of Delaware residents and their properties will be more prone to flooding aggravated by sea level rise by 2045.


The study combined data on areas prone to frequent flooding with property data from Zillow and used sea level rise scenarios from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to determine how many Delaware properties could be affected.

By 2045, nearly 6,000 residential properties along Delaware’s coastline would face flooding related issues, according to the study.

Erika Spanger-Siegfried, a senior analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists and one of the authors of the study, says that’s a lot of families in harm’s way.

“That’s a lot of impact on the local economy, that’s a problem that’s flying under the radar that we need to get out ahead of,” Spanger-Siegfried said.

According to the study, Delaware homes at risk of flooding contribute $4.6 million in yearly property tax revenue.

University of Delaware oceanography professor Art Trembanis says in many ways, coastal properties have been shielded from the true estimate of risk in the past because of federal flood insurance subsidies.

“As you start to see market pressures, if the true risk was placed on communities and individual property owners, that might start to change people and their selection,” Trembanis said.

An interactive map in the study shows almost 1,600 homes in the 19930 zip code, which represents Bethany Beach, are at a high risk of flooding by 2045.

Those homes are worth more than $91 million collectively and contribute almost $1.5 million to the property tax base locally, according to the assessment.