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For those affected by natural disasters, rebuilding is often easier than relocating

Hurricane Ida damage
Posted at 10:45 AM, Oct 07, 2021

It can be difficult to rebuild after a hurricane, flood or a tornado. But according to a new poll from NPR, 66% of Americans actually prefer to rebuild rather than relocate if their home is claimed by a natural disaster.

According to officials with Rebuilding Together — a nonprofit that helps low-income families make repairs after natural disasters — there's a variety of reasons why rebuilding is often easier than relocating.

"Usually, it's where they grew up," said Rebuilding Together CEO Caroline Blakely. "It's where their community is, and they don't want to move. They want to be where they are, and they want to live in a safe and healthy environment, next to the friends that they know and built up over time."

Blakely says rebuilding is also often more affordable. For many people she's worked with, the home they're trying to repair has been passed down for generations with no mortgage, making it cheaper to rebuild rather than relocate.

However, the increase in natural disasters has made it difficult to help everyone — NPR data shows that 30% of Americans have been impacted by an extreme weather event in the past two years. Rebuilding Together also has to wait until homes as assessed by FEMA and insurance companies to make sure they don't miss out on any help that they can provide.

"We just finished a house where a guy was living in a tent in his yard since Katrina, so that was 10, 11 years ago," Blakely said. "So he was in a tent this whole time, and we just moved him back in, so it took that long...Ida has certainly has escalated a lot of our efforts there."

Rebuilding Together also has a preparedness program for people looking to evacuate before natural disasters hit. Blakely says the nonprofit is always accepting help through volunteering or donations. Its affiliates are located across the country.