Virginia Coastal Policy Center


Climate change is altering the United States’ coastline in both subtle and extreme ways. The threat is especially pressing in the Commonwealth of Virginia, which is experiencing sea levels rising faster than the global average. As global sea level rise continues to increase, coastal communities across the country must make difficult decisions about their futures. Instead of waging an endless war with the tide, one option for them to consider is the process of managed retreat, which provides a long-term solution by relocating communities away from vulnerable areas. Low to moderate income communities face a variety of additional social and equitable concerns related to managed retreat and other efforts to adapt to climate change. This paper summarizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency National Flood Insurance Program, as well as current buyout programs at the federal and state level. Next is focuses on several managed retreat and relocation case studies with an eye toward guiding low- to moderate-income communities faced with preparing for managed retreat. After analyzing these case studies, this paper proposes how these lessons can be applied to the process of managed retreat for coastal Virginia, and particularly low and moderate income communities.

This abstract has been taken from the authors' introduction.

Document Type

Sea Level Rise and Recurrent Flooding

Publication Date

Spring 2020