(KPIX 5) — Thousands of Bay Area homes are at serious risk of flooding in the next few decades according to a startling new prediction about the threat of rising tides on real estate nationwide.
A report by the Oakland-based Union of Concerned Scientists says more than 20,000 homes across California are at risk of frequent flooding in the next 30 years.
Known trouble spots like Marin and San Mateo County have more than 4,000 homes at risk. But areas like Alameda, East Palo Alto, and much of the South Bay could also get hammered.
In East Palo Alto, Shaun Washington has never forgotten that his family lives on the edge of disaster. His childhood home near Fordham St. and Illinois St. is just steps away from the bay, and is actually below sea level when the high tide rolls in.
Washington remembers how the massive El Niño storms 20 years ago inundated his house with feet of water. After all these years, he knows the house, as it stands, is on borrowed time.
“So everyone kind of knows, we’re gonna have flooding here eventually,” said Washington.
“This is absolutely something we need to work on right now,” said climate scientist Kristina Dahl.
The Union of Concerned Scientists has run the numbers, and they are staggering. Researchers say the frequency of so-called “sunny day floods,” where king tides roll in and flood low-lying cities, has doubled or even tripled in the last few decades.
On the group’s website, you can drill down to the zip code to see the hardest hit – which includes 94303, that neighborhood in East Palo Alto.
If sea levels continue to rise another two feet in 30 years as predicted, zip code 94303 alone will lose 5,000 homes worth $4 billion dollars.
Aside from the Bay Area, the report shows areas among the most affected would include the Gulf Coast, Florida, the Carolinas and the Jersey shore.
But with President Trump questioning climate change, the union says it’s up to local government to do what it can.
“Well, right now we know that there is a lot of opposition to climate action at the federal level. But that doesn’t mean that states and municipalities aren’t taking action already,” said Dahl. “Many places have already seen this risk and they’re taking steps to start addressing it.”