Rebuilding After Disasters: Should You Go Back or Leave Home?

Unfortunate as it may be, disasters do occur. Natural disasters like hurricanes or wildfires can nevertheless cause devastating losses, even to people who plan beforehand. People and families are forced to make a number of important decisions in a short period of time when these kinds of calamities destroy homes and cities, including whether they will stay or go.


There is one major choice that many people must face after a hurricane, wildfire, tornado, flood, or earthquake has passed: After losing everything in a disaster, do you rebuild in the same location or pack up and move somewhere safer? In this post, we’ll go through the advantages and disadvantages of each option as well as the key elements to take into account while attempting to provide an answer.


Major Factors to Consider Rebuilding in the Same Area 


Can you build a new home to a higher building standard than the one you demolished, making it stronger and more disaster-resistant?


In a disaster area, will you be able to obtain (or afford) insurance for a knockdown rebuild building?


Are there any chances that the community’s residents, businesses, and public services will rebuild?


Natural Disasters and How They Impact Homeowners and Buyers


It’s crucial to be aware of the hazards when looking for a property. You need to be aware of the weather and environmental hazards you’re accepting because diverse geography and geographic features expose homes to various threats.


  • Hurricanes. If you plan to buy a house in a coastal region frequently subject to tropical weather, you should learn about the local hurricane risk. Even records of every hurricane that hit the United States since 1985 are available online.


  • Wildfires. There are several places that are vulnerable to wildfires, such as hot, dry climates and wooded areas with downed trees. High-risk wildfire zones can be seen on online maps.


  • Earthquakes. Investigate the possibility of an earthquake damaging your house. The FEMA Earthquake Hazard Maps are useful for identifying the locations that are most at risk.


  • Flooding. Similar to this, you must be ready for flooding if you buy a house in a flood zone (you may check the FEMA Flood Map Service).


  • Tornadoes. You should be aware of your dangers and take safeguards if you decide to purchase a house in a tornado zone, especially in Tornado Alley.


Homebuyers should often search for properties that are constructed as best they can to resist the region’s regular natural catastrophes in locations where the danger is higher.


Stay or Leave? 


Remember that you are not the first person to have to make the difficult decision of whether to stay and rebuild or to leave and move on after a natural disaster. In fact, because natural disasters affect large populations, there has been considerable public discussion about whether or not entire communities should bear the astronomical costs of reconstruction.


As you continue reading, you’ll find that this decision might not be entirely up to you; the decisions made by the entities that surround your property will also be important. After all, what will be left for you if your community decides not to rebuild?


Costs to Homeowners Every Year


Natural disasters are expensive in a variety of ways, not the least of which is financial. “2018 was the fourth-costliest year for natural disasters in history […] They cost $160 billion, of which only half was insured […] 2017 cost the U.S. economy a record $307 billion,” said the report Natural Disasters’ Economic Impact. There were 16 events, each of which cost above $1 billion.


Fires are the most expensive for homes, according to Forbes, with $6.3 billion in losses between 2015 and 2017. While hurricanes and tornadoes caused $4.5 billion in losses, flooding cost homes roughly $5.1 billion over that time.


Communities bear astronomical expenditures when important infrastructure, like roadways, is broken. Additionally, those who lack insurance frequently experience bankruptcy, leaving their damaged properties unrepaired. Some people cannot afford to stay, even with federal assistance or a state of emergency being declared.


The Importance of Insurance


To safeguard their houses and other property in the case of a disaster, homeowners should buy the appropriate kind of insurance. But home insurance can be confusing, and not all catastrophes are covered.


For homeowners, knowing exactly what caused their home’s damage will be crucial for insurance purposes because coverage would rely on how the damage was caused, according to the finance blog MarketWatch.


When a hurricane strikes, insurance will probably pay for roof damage that results in severe water buildup within the home. However, if a nearby river floods due to a lot of rain, only homes whose owners have flood insurance will be covered for damage.


The correct insurance is therefore essential, especially if you buy a house in a location where natural catastrophes are more prone to strike. In order for homeowners to adequately insure themselves against damages, Forbes notes that they “should be aware of the numerous calamities that could occur in their neighbourhood.”


Recognizing and Reducing Risks


In the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, it might be simple to assume the worst. However, you should reduce the risks before making any long-term decisions about staying or leaving.


For example, the Rice University Business School explains, “Although we can’t predict when another catastrophe will happen, it’s important not to assume that because we flooded recently, flooding will happen again soon. Research shows that when people are planning for the future, they give too much weight to recent events.”


However, it’s wise to consider the risks and make an informed decision. For instance, if you live in a hurricane-prone area, you need to consider whether you can survive another hurricane or if it would be better for you to relocate. Likewise, if you lived through a flood and continue to live in a flood zone, it’s wise to invest in flood insurance. Also, review U.S.maps indicating natural disaster risks like earthquakes, floods, tornadoes and hurricanes to help you gain better insight into risk factors for your area.


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