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Place attachment in rural and urban Mid-Atlantic coastal communities

Authors: Jack Gonzales*, Virginia Tech, Anamaria Bukvic, Virginia Tech, Olga Wilhelmi, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Aaron Whittemore, Virginia Tech
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability, Coastal and Marine
Keywords: Place attachment, relocation, coastal flooding, sea level rise
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Coastal flooding driven by sea level rise is a growing threat in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Rising relative sea level increases the frequency of nuisance flooding and amplifies other coastal hazards, especially storm surge and shoreline erosion. The increased risk of coastal flooding may force residents to abandon vulnerable communities and relocate. To better understand if or when residents may have to relocate, residents and community leaders need science about both coastal hazard risk and attitudes among residents towards relocation. The willingness to relocate is influenced by the extent residents are attached to their communities. This poster examines the factors that affect place attachment in Ocean City, MD, and Chincoteague, VA to determine which variables drive place attachment in diverse communities. These two communities are in close proximity to one another but represent the diverse nature of communities in the region, with disparate population densities, economies, and histories. Coastal hazard risk metrics including sea level rise projections and FEMA flood maps indicate that these communities are at high risk to coastal hazards and relocation may become the most effective option for residents in the future. This poster shows a place attachment index composed of 17 aggregated variables at the US Census block group level and finds that Chincoteague, VA has a significantly higher place attachment.

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