NORTH TOPSAIL BEACH, N.C. – Even after Hurricane Florence passes, the low-lying barrier islands off the coast of North and South Carolina won't be out of danger.
The islands are experiencing some of the fastest rates of sea level rise anywhere in the world. But that hasn't stopped developers and eager homebuyers from investing in beachfront property.
The rate of rise is expected to accelerate as the oceans warm, sea water expands, currents weaken and polar ice sheets melt. By the end of the century, it's projected to rise by more than 6 feet, enough to wash over parts of the islands with each high tide.
Taxpayers are likely to be left with much of the bill for lost homes. Coastal property owners in low-lying areas typically rely on federal flood insurance.