Emergency Management & Public Administration

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In the US, the role and importance of voluntary buyout and property acquisition programs (buyouts) as a policy tool to relocate property owners out of flood risk riverine and coastal environments has increased since the 1990s, but how federal and other agencies frame success remains less understood. This review paper uses the case of an early implementation of a buyout program that encompassed a portion of Valmeyer to illustrate how success has been framed, and why. Analysis shows definitions of success by different actors emphasized acquisition of properties, construction of new residential and business areas including the incorporation of sustainable building technologies, as well as future avoidance of disaster costs. These definitions, however, become problematic when considering what is left out or overlooked, including socioeconomic elements that may be relevant for recovery. Success is framed narrowly, focusing far more on the removal of families from floodplains, and less on eventual outcomes for those families. This may undermine critical community voices and effective forms of recovery. There are important questions that remain unanswered including questions about the lost sense of community, disruptions to social networks, and how buyouts implicate land-use dynamics. We draw attention to crucial, but overlooked elements in the construction of success including potential harms that may flow from assumptions of success and the role and importance of coproduction of knowledge and social values in managed retreat.

Publication/Presentation Information

International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 95, 2023, 1-15.



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