Many American communities, including Iverson, are struggling to catch up as climate change increases flood risks.
Washington state federal rainfall mapping, which forms the basis for decisions about infrastructure and flood risk, dates back to 1973.
In Whatcom County, where Everson is located, FEMA data indicates that there are approximately 5,900 properties in special flood risk areas, indicating that they have a 1% chance of flooding each year and that the purchase of flood insurance is always mandatory, he said. Roberts. The First Street Foundation, which incorporates climate data into a similar analysis, found that about 14,500 properties are at risk there.
Roberts said, referring to a common standard used to determine who needs insurance.
Flood and housing
Floods caused by a warming climate have turned Everson’s most pressing problem – housing – into an emergency.
Before the floods, Iverson, like many American communities, was mired in a housing crisis. The pandemic has only added fuel to the crowded market as city dwellers have sought homes near Iverson – many of them searching for space and the air of the Cascade Mountains.
The developers couldn’t keep up with the explosive growth. Some Iverson residents couldn’t keep up with the high prices. In recent years, the local housing authority has imposed restrictions on who can join waiting lists for public and subsidized housing because these queues have stretched for several years.
According to the Washington Center for Real Estate Research, Whatcom County had a 1 percent vacancy rate for rental apartments before the flood hit. Meanwhile, home prices in the county rose by about 23 percent from the first quarter of 2021 to the same period in 2022. Floodwaters then forced 300 families to leave their homes and join the poor rental market. It also led to the closure of lower-income apartments in Everson, an admission that parts of this community could not be restored, even though they had been around for decades.
“The housing crisis — it’s just exacerbating any effects of the flood,” Berry said. “I don’t think we’ll ever catch up.”
For Perry, Iverson’s part-time mayor, floodwaters ran down most everything in his life.
Perry’s grandson was trapped by the flood waters and asked Breivik to harvest it. 14 properties run by the Berry family in nearby Soma were inundated, forcing tenants to move away and require repair.
After the waters receded, Berry began taking on the dual, sometimes dueling, responsibilities of housing the Eversons and leading the city’s recovery while also searching for durable solutions to redirect future floodwaters or move people on their way.
During an early May visit to Iverson, many homes remained wrecked, and sandbags and flood debris still littered some yards. Residents continued to live in hotels, in trailers outside their uninhabitable homes, or with friends elsewhere. Some teetered on the edge of homelessness.