Sand bags surround homes on North Topsail Beach, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, as Hurricane Florence threatens the coast. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Beyond hurricanes, rising seas menace barrier island homes

September 13, 2018 - 11:25 pm

NORTH TOPSAIL BEACH, N.C. (AP) — For the barrier island homes that manage to survive Hurricane Florence's assault on the Carolina coast, it's only a matter of time.

The fragile islands just off the U.S. Southeast coast are experiencing some of the fastest rates of sea level rise in the world. By the end of this century, experts project, the ocean will rise more than 6 feet (2 meters) — enough to wash over wide sections of some coastal islands with every high tide.

Coastal property owners in low-lying areas typically rely on federal flood insurance since many private insurers have pulled out of the market. And in North and South Carolina, more than $87 billion in private property is covered by federal flood insurance — leaving taxpayers likely left holding much of the bill as sea levels rise and future natural disasters mount.

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