Over the past decade, floods have increased in frequency and intensity, a trend that is expected to intensify over the next twenty-five years. This article addresses an underexamined tension in floodplain governance: how a policy instrument designed to mitigate flood hazards in urban neighborhoods also has the potential to drive changes that may lead to environmental gentrification. Through survey and interview data concentrated in an economically depressed neighborhood in Lansing, Michigan, we explore how floodplain residents perceive their own vulnerability to flooding and interpret neighborhood land-use changes precipitated by shifts in floodplain governance. We found that while residents may recognize their neighborhood is at risk of flooding, they downplay their own vulnerability due in part to overconfidence on structural flood control measures. Relatedly, residents value the state’s new flood risk mitigation program for contributing to neighborhood revitalization, generally without recognizing its flood risk adaptation objectives. Ironically, some elements of floodplain governance may drive the deterioration that necessitates urban revitalization, while others may disenfranchise low-income long-time residents. This case illustrates that shifting floodplain governance towards green infrastructure is not fully comprehensible to some residents, pointing to the need for participatory approaches that create a shared vision for urban floodplain neighborhoods.
At the Crossroads of Flood Mitigation and Urban Revitalization: Residents’ Perspectives of Shifting Floodplain Governance in the United States Rust Belt
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Lucero Radonic, Lauren T. Cooper, Marcela Omans; At the Crossroads of Flood Mitigation and Urban Revitalization: Residents’ Perspectives of Shifting Floodplain Governance in the United States Rust Belt. Human Organization 1 June 2020; 79 (2): 117–129. doi: https://doi.org/10.17730/1938-35126.96.36.199
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