First, Do No Harm: Evaluating the Vulnerability Reduction of Post-Disaster Home Buyout Programs


Journal Article

© 2019 American Society of Civil Engineers. Post-disaster home buyout programs are intended to reduce hazard vulnerability by facilitating the permanent relocation of people and property away from known hazardous areas. However, the effectiveness of home buyouts in reducing vulnerability has not been empirically evaluated. This study quantifies change-in-exposure to coastal flood hazards and social vulnerability among households that participated in a buyout program in New York State following Hurricane Sandy. Using a GIS-based overlay analysis, household vulnerability was evaluated before and after program participation. The authors found that 99% of the 323 households studied relocated to an area of higher social vulnerability and over 20% relocated to an area exposed to coastal flood hazards. These results suggest that significant uncertainty remains regarding the extent to which buyout programs reduce household vulnerability. More broadly, findings from this study raise questions about the use of buyout programs as policy tools for reducing hazard vulnerability and suggest that failure to carefully consider the dynamics of population relocation may result in the large-scale redistribution and shifting of vulnerability rather than its actively managed reduction.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • McGhee, DJ; Binder, SB; Albright, EA

Published Date

  • February 1, 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 21 / 1

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1527-6988

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1061/(ASCE)NH.1527-6996.0000337

Citation Source

  • Scopus