Understanding relocation in flood-prone coastal communities through the lens of place attachment

Authors: Anamaria Bukvic*, Virginia Tech, Aaron Whittemore, Virginia Tech, Olga Wilhelmi, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Jack Gonzales, Virginia Tech
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Coastal and Marine
Keywords: relocation, coastal, flooding, place attachment
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/9/2020
Start / End Time: 1:45 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Governors Square 15, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Place attachment has been acknowledged as an important factor in mobility decision-making. However, it has not yet been explored in the context of permanent relocation in coastal communities due to accelerated flooding. The literature shows that people may be more committed to stay in place versus moving elsewhere in response to stressors if they have stronger place attachment. Such sentiments may deter residents from considering relocation regardless of the effectiveness of this adaptation strategy in addressing the flood risk. The objective of this paper is to develop a new typology for the assessment of coastal locations based on their place attachment characteristics that will help understand how different places may respond to the possibility of flood-driven relocation. We first conducted a systematic literature review to identify the appropriate metrics for measuring place attachment in the context of hazards and disasters, and population movement. Next, we evaluated the papers’ content to identify study characteristics such as methods used, geographical focus, and attributes deemed important determinants of place attachment. This resulted in an instrument consisting of sixteen place attachment indicators that was then applied to six case study locations across three different states. Selected areas were chosen to reflect the highest risk of coastal flooding and to differentiate between urban and rural areas. The indicators were aggregated and mapped to show spatial distribution of place attachment measures in case study locations. Based on our typology, we identified significant variation in place attachment determinants in selected coastal locations regardles of the flood risk.

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