Interactive: Maine faces $500M losses in mild flood; maps show risk by neighborhood

A new website from the science journalism nonprofit Climate Central estimates Maine faces more than $500 million in property damage in a mild — two-foot — flood, based on a variety of data sources and satellite mapping. A four-foot flood — with a 36% chance of happening between now and 2030 — would do around $1.1 billion in damage in the state and directly affect an estimated 8,000 people and 4,121 homes.

The group’s project, Surging Seas, gives an interactive look at the potential impacts of sea level rise and flooding down to the level of individual cities, towns and zip codes.

The study found the cities with the largest number of people exposed to the effects of a storm causing a four-foot flood are (ranked most to least): South Portland, Old Orchard Beach, Portland, Biddeford, Saco, Kittery, Cape Neddick, Bath, South Eliot and Kennebunkport.

South Portland, for example, stands to lose up to $19 million in property value and in such a storm, which would put the homes of an estimated 120 people under water.

According to the group’s report, water reached 3.18 feet above the high tide line at the Bar Harbor monitoring station in 2011. In 2007, water reached 3.26 feet above the high tide line at the Portland monitoring station.

Nationally, the report that aims to analyze how sea level rise caused by global warming would affect coastal towns. The report found nearly five million people in the United States live on land that would be underwater with four feet of flooding.

The study’s findings are based on the sea level rising eight inches in the last century while storms have become more frequent and precipitation has increased.

The report analyzes risk from 1-10 feet above high tide and covers more than 100 demographic, economic, infrastructure and environmental variables using data drawn mainly from federal sources, including National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Transportation, U.S. Census Bureau and others.

If you’re taking a look at the project’s interactive site, let me know what you find most interesting at the local level.

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Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.