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Brooklyn coastal neighborhoods face biweekly flooding in decades to come

Thousands of Homes at Risk in Southern Brooklyn, Hundreds in DUMBO, Heights — and One in Williamsburg

June 18, 2018 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
This map shows the areas of Brooklyn likely to be hit by regular flooding by the year 2100 if measures advocated in the Paris Agreement aren’t carried out. Map courtesy of the Union of Concerned Scientists
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The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released a report on Monday warning that hundreds of thousands of coastal properties, including 24,286 in Brooklyn, face “chronic inundation” in the coming decades because of accelerating sea level rise.

Many homeowners and prospective home buyers are simply not aware of the problem, according to UCS, because Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood risk maps only account for present-day flood risks.

In the worst-case scenario, the coastal ZIP code in Brooklyn with the greatest number of homes at risk is 11235, which includes Sheepshead Bay. UCS says that 7,966 currently-existing homes will be swamped on a regular basis by the year 2100 if something isn’t done about the climate before then.

At the other end of the spectrum, just one home is at risk in ZIP code 11211, which includes Williamsburg — and UCS knows exactly which one it is.

According to the researchers (who used data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and property data from Zillow), this home is worth $967,000, probably houses two people and contributes $8,904 to the local property tax base.

The report also looked at the interim year 2045, which showed lesser amounts of inundation. By 2045, for example, 70 of today’s homes in the Sheepshead Bay area will likely experience regular inundation.

Brooklyn’s building boom will probably add more homes to the data base by the time the inundation reaches its zenith.

By chronic inundation, UCS means flooding on average, 26 times per year or more (or roughly once every other week).

Southern Brooklyn Faces Worst Threat of Flooding

According to the report, the southern end of Brooklyn will be hardest hit.

Besides Sheepshead Bay’s 7,966 endangered homes, Canarsie has 4,458 homes that could be hit; in Flatlands, 3,238 homes could be regularly swamped. Coney Island has 3,019 homes projected to flood regularly; Bath Beach has 2,212 homes on the endangered list. In Marine Park, 1,859 home owners are looking at frequent inundation. In addition, 730 home owners in Gravesend face regular flooding.

Northwestern Brooklyn

Coastal neighborhoods in Northwestern Brooklyn and around Red Hook are also projected to experience regular flooding, though not as much as neighborhoods in Southern Brooklyn.

A combined 341 homes are at risk in ZIP codes 11231 and 11215, which includes Red Hook and Gowanus. In Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO, in ZIP code 11201, 280 low-lying homes are at risk. In Greenpoint, 182 of today’s homes are at risk of becoming regularly inundated. (Add to that the one home in Williamsburg.)

Paris Agreement Could Help

UCS says the potential drop in coastal property values could have reverberations throughout the economy, potentially triggering regional housing market crises.

The analysis found, however, that measures advocated in the Paris Agreement could slow down the inundation.

If nations adhere to it by capping warming to below 2 degrees Celsius — and if there is limited loss of land-based ice — about 89 percent of New York’s at-risk homes would avoid chronic flooding by the end of the century, according to UCS.

See for the full report and interactive maps.


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