Building Social Equity into Floodplain Buyouts

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Increasingly frequent flood events have generated greater attention to voluntary floodplain buyouts, a tool to mitigate flood hazards by permanently moving people and properties out of harm’s way. While buyouts hold the promise of reducing flood risk by allowing the land to be used to store stormwater, they can also repeat inequitable practices of the past that have displaced vulnerable communities. Through a literature review, this study discusses the knowledge to date at the nexus between flood risk, social equity, and buyouts. The study uses geospatial tools to identify possible parcels for buyouts in a North Carolina town by focusing on the level of flood risk and proximity to natural areas. The resulting buyout scenarios are compared using a social vulnerability index and physical risk factors. The study concludes with recommendations to land use planners and floodplain managers at the state level for buyout decision-making. Incorporating social vulnerability information into buyout criteria will be valuable to administrators of buyout programs to identify the most at-risk populations, prioritize equity, and direct government funding to buyouts that benefit the entire community.





Lipuma, Sarah (2021). Building Social Equity into Floodplain Buyouts. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.