Race, Place & Resilience: Post-Disaster Buyouts in Eastern North Carolina

Authors: Amanda Martin*, UNC-Chapel Hill
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Economic Geography, Ethnicity and Race
Keywords: Buyout, Relocation, Disaster recovery, Resilience, Community development, Economic development,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Proteus, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This project analyzes the role of post-disaster buyouts in individual and community economic wellbeing by comparing two small African-American communities in Eastern North Carolina: Princeville, a historic Black settlement founded in 1865, and Lincoln City, a neighborhood of the small city of Kinston. Hurricane Floyd completely devastated both places in 1999. As a town, Princeville decided to reject a buyout program, while Kinston aggressively pursued a buyout program in Lincoln City where 97% of eligible sellers participated. This project uses a comparative case study to trace the role of buyouts in long-term Floyd recovery and understand implications for repeat catastrophic flooding that occurred in both communities in 2016. I use interviews with residents, local leaders, and state and federal officials, as well as buyout settlement records, government documents, economic and social data, and media records to draw conclusions. I find that the floodplain buyout program in Lincoln City provided mostly positive individual economic benefits, but these individual benefits came at the cost of some communal economic assets that were preserved in Princeville. For homeowners in both places, the buyout was an opportunity to move into higher quality housing and in Kinston, it allowed some to move to higher opportunity areas. Gap funding helped participants afford higher home prices. However, social networks that supported individual economic security were lost when the buyout occurred. Before the flood, neighbors had shared rides to work, childcare, and meals, most of which disappeared when the neighborhood was bought out.

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