The Ocean State, with over 400 miles of coastline, is known for its beaches, bluffs, and scenic waterfronts. Rhode Island’s coast is a vital part of the state’s identity, attracting long- and short-term visitors, and offering opportunities for recreation, industry, and simple enjoyment.
Being within a stone’s throw of the beach is a dream for many, but the realities of coastal living can be harsh. There are many crucial factors to consider before buying a home on the coast, one being RI flood insurance.
The sea-level rising in Rhode Island has worsened over the years and poses a great risk to coastal homeowners. Since 1930, sea-level rise in Rhode Island has increased an average of 1 inch per decade. However, the rate of sea-level rise has quickened and the sea level along Rhode Island’s coast has risen 6 inches over the last 40 years. By 2100, the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council is planning for 3 to 5 feet of
sea level rise.
If the property you are considering is not currently located in a flood zone, it very well may be in the future. Be sure to check the 0.2% risk area to see if the property may be in the flood zone in the future, which, with rising sea levels, may offer a more accurate look at the future floodplain.
While a coastal home presents flooding risks, there are many factors that have changed over the years to better protect coastal properties. Many homes along the coast were built before the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was created. Now, requirements designed to increase the flood-resistance of coastal structures have been strengthened within international, federal, and state building codes to meet the requirements of the NFIP.
There are improvements that can be made to a home to better protect it from natural disasters:
- Consider shoreline protection structures such as seawalls, jetties, breakwaters, and bulkheads.
- Choose materials that are resistant to damage from flooding, termites and other hazards.
- Install appliances above a potential flood level. For example, install a front-loading washer on a platform, or over a built-in drawer.
- Make sure you have a sealed roof deck
- Consider sealing roof decking seams with six-inch-wide roofing tape as a secondary defense against water damage.
- Invest in high wind rated roof mounted vents
- Install gable wall vents that are protected against water intrusion
- Make sure all door, window, and skylight openings are protected with impact-protection systems
- Any attached structures should be connected by strapped beams or columns to prevent uplift
Contact our RI coastal flood insurance specialists before purchasing a coastal home.