TIME

Climate’s home front

1171 SHOREHAM LOOKS much like it did when Anna Zimmerman lived there: modest but presentable. A good starter home for Zimmerman and her husband when they bought it in 2005, for a while it provided an idyllic existence in suburban Charleston, S.C., a community of friendly neighbors for their young child, a quaint backyard and even space for Zimmerman’s mother-in-law. Then, in 2015, the first flood hit, taking most of their property with it after a heavy rain. This came as a shock; no flood risk had been disclosed when Zimmerman bought the house. But, determined to turn lemons into lemonade, she used the insurance money to fix it up just as she liked. “I would have been happy living in this house into retirement,” she says now, looking up at it from across the street.

Then came Hurricane Irma in 2017. Water inundated the house, destroying virtually everything up to the waist. The insurance adjuster declared the home a total loss, and Zimmerman was left with two options: use the insurance payout—and a considerable amount of her own money—to rebuild, or collect the cash and sell the house to any one of a bevy of real estate investors eager to flip it.

Zimmerman couldn’t fathom rebuilding when she knew the home would flood again, and selling it to a flipper felt wrong, because eventually it would just end up in the hands of another unsuspecting buyer enticed by a newly refurbished home. So she

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