Spatial Implications of Flood Exposure and Relocation Attitudes among Older Populations in Hampton Roads, VA

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Virginia Tech


Coastal communities along the eastern seaboard are continuously exposed to flooding and related impacts, compromising the health and safety of their residents and especially of more vulnerable older populations. In cases where structural protection and floodproofing measures may not protect households from all types of flooding, relocation may represent the most effective long-term adaptation option. However, the extent to which older residents in Hampton Roads, Virginia are exposed to such flooding is not well understood, nor are the factors influencing their relocation attitudes. Thus, the main objective of this research is to understand both the exposure to flooding and evaluate attitudes towards relocation among older residents in Hampton Roads. This study uses a mixed methods approach to analyze flood exposure and attitudes towards relocation among older adults living in this area. First, a geospatial analysis was conducted to assess the change in flood risk in Hampton Roads over a period of 60 years and exposure to older populations, aged 60 and over. Then the survey data were used to conduct a correlation analysis to examine the relationship between survey responses and respondents' willingness to consider relocation. The geospatial analysis showed that flood exposure in this area does not increase linearly with time, with several block groups experiencing accelerated levels of flood increases from 2000-2060. Most of the municipalities which experience high overlap between flood extent and older population percentages are urban and see dramatic increases in flood exposure from 2000-2060. The statistical results show that willingness to consider relocation is correlated to several variables measuring sociodemographic characteristics, place attachment, and flood exposure, and less to other considerations influencing the decision to permanently relocate. The most influential factors driving relocation attitudes are financial, where residents would consider relocation if compensated or offered similar housing elsewhere. Finally, a large proportion of respondents (40.28%) would prefer to permanently move to either a different region or different state should flooding continue in their community. The results of this study can help community leaders and policymakers to better understand the flood outcomes and assistance needs of their older populations living in flood-prone areas.



coastal, flooding, sea level rise, aging, relocation