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BC-US--Flood Buyouts, ADVISORY, US

May 23, 2019

Dear AP Customers:

The rain keeps coming in the Midwest and Plains states, where many towns, farms and roads that still haven’t dried out from this spring’s epic storms are again under flood watch. As disastrous flooding becomes a more regular phenomenon in more parts of the country, communities across the U.S. will increasingly wrestle with a wrenching question: Should we stay?

Over the past three decades, federal and local governments have poured more than $5 billion into buying out tens of thousands of disaster-prone private properties across the country, then returning the land to nature or converting it to recreational use. An Associated Press analysis of data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development shows those buyouts, which include properties in hundreds of communities inundated by floods, have been getting more expensive.

Most buyouts occur after a disaster. But Congress also has increased funding for a proactive program that goes toward buyouts and other disaster preparations, from $25 million in 2015 to $250 million this year. Record flooding in the Midwest this year could add even more buyouts to the queue as government officials grapple with how to protect people in harm’s way amid a changing climate.

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TIMING:

The AP has made the data available under embargo ahead of publication. The story, described below, has moved in advance under embargo and is intended for use online and in print publications on Monday, May 27. All photos also have moved under embargo.

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DATA:

AP customers can use the embargoed data for reporting purposes to localize the story. It shows that many of the costliest payouts have come during the last decade, with some of the largest annual spikes occurring after hurricanes or storms hit heavily populated areas. It can be organized by state, disaster and specific locality. Customers enrolled in AP’s data.world platform have been emailed the link to the data.

If your news organization is not yet licensed to access our data distribution, please contact apdigitalsales@ap.org for enrollment details.

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STORY PACKAGE:

FLOOD BUYOUTS

MOSBY, Mo. _ The residents of this small riverside town have become accustomed to watching for rising waters. They’ve lost track of the seemingly countless floods that have swamped their streets, transformed their homes into islands and ruined their floors and furniture. Fed up, many are now waiting for a government buyout offer _ joining thousands of others across the country in a slow-moving line to escape from their flood-prone homes. Over the past three decades, federal and local governments have poured more than $5 billion into buying tens of thousands of private properties across the country to try to diminish the long-term costs of repeatedly repairing them after floods and other disasters, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal data. The analysis shows those buyouts have been getting more expensive, as government officials grapple with how to protect people in harm’s way amid a changing climate. By David A. Lieb. 1,300 words. With AP photos. With AP data distribution.

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CONTACT:

For questions, contact Data Team Editor Meghan Hoyer at mhoyer@ap.org or State Government Team Editor Tom Verdin at taverdin@ap.org

All contents © copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.