Puerto Rico is offering aid to homeowners looking to rebuild after Hurricane Maria, but only those willing to relocate from flood-prone areas, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Government officials are hoping to avoid rebuilding communities on land with frequent flooding and soil erosion, which would be at further risk to a future storm. Those who cannot rebuild will be granted a housing voucher for a home outside the floodplain.
“We need to move families to a safe place,” Luis Burdiel Agudo, the president of the Economic Development Bank for Puerto Rico, told the newspaper.
In states like Texas and Florida, the federal government has moved to buy frequently flooded houses from their owners to alleviate pressure on the federal flood-insurance program. After Hurricane Florence hit the Carolinas, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said, “There are places that have been flooded numerous times that you just have to look at and say, It’s just not smart to build back.”
Despite this, most homeowners choose to rebuild rather than move elsewhere.
“I wouldn’t leave here. I was born and raised here,” said Judith Colón, a 43-year-old resident of a flood-prone part of Puerto Rico. “Our community is very united.…We are not going to allow it.”
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