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Want to stay on the coast? Homeowners weigh post-Sandy elevation.

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Some experts in flooding say residents in low-lying coastal areas that flood should consider moving to higher ground.

"After a couple of floods, if people used common sense, they would just get out of there," says Orrin Pilkey, a professor emeritus at Duke University in Durham, N.C., and an expert on coastal sea-level rise. "I would not just patch up the holes and go back."

But people are often driven by the love of their homes or communities and want to return.

In New Orleans following hurricane Katrina, for example, some residents in areas that were under 18 to 20 feet of water, such as the Lower Ninth Ward, have rebuilt. In some cases, they are now protected by higher and better levees, which held when hurricane Isaac came through this August.

Clarke also has strong links to the area where her home flooded. In a brief drive around the neighborhood, she stops to say hello to a distant relative, who is cleaning up after the storm. She remembers her grandmother's home a short distance away in Harbor View – a community also flooded by the storm. And she and her husband often launch kayaks from their backyard and paddle around the harbor.

But for most homeowners, a key factor in determining how to rebuild will be where FEMA decides there might be flooding in the future. The agency is in the process of revamping its flood maps by using technologies such as computer modeling and lasers from space.

"Some of the communities said, we don't believe this new technology, raising the lines to a degree we did not see happen in Katrina," says Mr. Roy, who is also associated with the charity organization International Relief & Development, based in Arlington, Va. "Why build to higher marks?"

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