Life jackets for an adult and a child are part of the debris littering the flooded main street of St. Marys after Hurricane Irma swept through the area in September. Numerous boats were destroyed after the towns docks were torn apart by the storm. Curtis Compton/

Study: Coastal Georgia homes lost $15.3 million value due to flooding

Coastal Georgia homes have lost nearly $15.3 million in value since 2005 due to flooding, according to a recent study.

The First Street Foundation, a nonprofit group concerned about the rise in sea levels, found there was a loss of $7.4 billion in home value across five coastal states between 2005 and 2017.

Scientists with the nonprofit analyzed more than 5.5 million real estate transactions in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, according to the study.

When determining losses, researchers tried to pinpoint the impact of frequent tidal flooding, according to the study’s methodology.

Homeowners in Florida suffered the highest losses in the five states studied, dropping nearly $5.4 billion since 2005. Losses in Georgia were far lower than the other states.

Analysis found that properties in four coastal Georgia locations — Savannah, Skidaway Island, St. Marys and Wilmington Island — each lost more than $1 million in value. Tybee Island homes reportedly lost $2.6 million in property value.

“It is one thing to project what the future impacts of sea level rise could be, but it is quite another to know that the market has already responded negatively to this threat,” Steven A. McAlpine, the head of data science at the First Street Foundation, said in a press release.

Researchers say this is the first study to demonstrate that sea level rise is directly to blame for decreased coastal home value and the first to identify the role nearby flooding plays in that decrease.

According to, a prediction tool created by the First Street Foundation, sea levels are estimated to rise 5.9 inches in coastal Georgia in the next 15 years.

Megan Desrosiers, the president and CEO of the Georgia conservation group 100 miles, said the study shows that communities need to work together to address sea level rise. Desrosiers said cities can construct elevated roads or purchase wetlands to help contain rainwater.

“People need to start working with local government officials and talk about investing in infrastructure and adopting policies that keep existing residents out of harm’s way and make sure future residents aren’t building in areas that are in harm’s way,” she said.

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