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Research on FEMA Buyouts, Impacts on Land and People

By Karla Jimenez-Magdaleno
In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew left many residents in eastern and central North Carolina with questions about disaster recovery and the safety of their communities.  Currently, North Carolina relies on FEMA funded buyouts for disaster recovery and prevention, a program that helps local governments purchase flood-prone properties to maintain as open space and reduce future disaster risks.  Buyouts are the primary federal program designed to increase disaster resiliency; however, there is little research on how they impact land uses or communities after the transaction is completed.  Over the summer of 2017, NCGrowth worked with SOG fellow Brian Dabson on a literature review of buyout program evaluations to assess what is known about their impacts on land and the people affected by natural disasters.
The goal of this literature review is to help establish best practices for local governments to use to (1) decide whether implementing a FEMA-funded buyout program is the best choice, (2) effectively administer FEMA-funded buyouts if they choose to implement, (3) assist their constituents in the process of relocating, and (4) improve how acquired land is managed.
You are invited to provide feedback on this draft literature review to identify practical solutions that help towns, community leaders, and organizations make better hazard mitigation decisions for their communities.  Please submit your thoughts to ncgrowth@unc.edu.
Property Buy-Outs: A Good Option for Local Governments and Homeowners?
Karla Jimenez-Magdaleno is an NCGrowth analyst and Masters in City and Regional Planning candidate at UNC-Chapel Hill.

People stop and take pictures of Highway 58, which was flooded in Nashville, North Carolina. By Robert Ray, for CNN

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