We are hearing more about climate change as a motivation to retire to Asheville, Hendersonville, and Brevard. The extreme weather patterns many Legacy members are fleeing rarely occur in our mountain region. Western North Carolina has become an ideal place for “Climate Migrants,” as they have been labeled. While our members have many reasons why they chose Legacy, we do have “Climate Migrants” that would say climate change is on the top of their list.
Robin and Carolyn are retired physicians who met in college and relocated after med school to the San Francisco Bay Area, where they lived and practiced medicine for 35 years. They retired ten years ago to their 15-acre property near the small gold mining town of Volcano, nestled in California’s beautiful Sierra Foothills. However, their dream retirement has become somewhat of a nightmare as they experience more frequent severe weather occurrences that include increasing fire danger and extreme winter storms. “We had our first Zoom call with Legacy on our iPad because our laptops were packed in an evacuation bag, ready to go,” shares Robin, “because the Caldor fire was just miles from our doorstep.” Even though the fire never reached their home, Carolyn explains, “The air quality was so bad that, for weeks, we couldn’t safely enjoy the outdoors—our main reason for choosing Volcano.” Robin adds, “We love living in the foothills, surrounded by forest. However, with the continuing megadrought in the West, instead of seeing trees around our house, I now see fuel.”
As if the dangers from the fires weren’t enough, four months later, Robin and Carolyn found themselves inundated with a winter storm that brought intense snowfall and whiteout conditions alongside record-low temperatures, called a “bomb cyclone.” Their whole-house generator kept the electricity on until their propane tank emptied, and it was days before the propane truck could come to fill it up. As Robin shares, “While we thoroughly researched all things about Legacy, the ongoing threat of climate change really pushed us to relocate to beautiful Western North Carolina, where the forests are less combustible and the weather more moderate.”
Climate Change is a series of weekly blog posts featuring Legacy Members. Check back next week to hear about another member story!