Denying Flood Risk in US coastal communities


One common way that residents of flood-prone communities rationalize their choice to stay is by scapegoating–or placing blame elsewhere.

“On Smith Island, for example, many people blame the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for not doing a better job of preventing erosion,” says Casagrande. “There is an erosion problem, but that is not the only challenge.”

Another tactic to resolve inconsistencies is social comparison, which states that individuals tend to evaluate their own situation by comparing it to others.

In other words, according to Casagrande, residents justify their decision to stay by believing that other places are so much worse.

When Casagrande, working on a separate project, interviewed a resident of an area along the Mississippi River that had recently experienced severe flooding and a simultaneous tornado–he asked: Do you think is a dangerous place to live?

Paraphrasing the resident’s response, Casagrande says: “‘No! Look at California – the earthquakes, the forest fires, mud slides…’ It’s always worse somewhere else.”

Source: Flood risk denial in US coastal communities