A powerful storm system triggered flash flooding across the St. Louis area and in the Appalachian Mountains this week, turning creeks into rivers that flooded basements and trashed homes. People living near waterways may have seen flood risk maps or hazard ratings for the area before, but just knowing your home faces a flood risk of 7 on a scale of 10 doesn’t always convey the damage potential.

Many real estate websites now offer flood and wildfire risk ratings for each property as disaster risks worsen in many areas. But the ratings aren’t helping enough, a team of emergency management experts in Arizona and Florida writes. The problem isn’t necessarily that homebuyers are ignoring the numbers, “it’s that the way risk information is being presented ignores long-established lessons from behavioral science,” they write. They’re proposing a different kind of rating that gets closer to something people instinctively relate to: their bank accounts.

Also today:

Stacy Morford

Environment + Climate Editor

Repairing storm damage is expensive, and insurance covers less than many people realize. Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Flood and wildfire risks: Translating risk ratings into future costs can help homebuyers and renters grasp the odds – and act on them

Melanie Gall, Arizona State University; Christopher Emrich, University of Central Florida; Marie Aquilino, Arizona State University

Telling people they have a flood risk rating of 10 is less powerful than explaining how much they’re likely to pay to deal with flooding over the next five years.

Economy + Business

Ethics + Religion

Politics + Society

Environment + Energy


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