More Than 4 Million Homes at Risk for Hurricane Storm-Surge Flooding
A recently released report indicates that just over four million homes in the U.S. along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts are at risk of hurricane-driven storm-surge damage, with more than $700 billion in total property exposure.
The annual Storm Surge Report, released by information and analytics provider CoreLogic, details exposure of single-family homes to storm-surge damage within several predefined geographic areas in the United States. In the Atlantic Coast region alone, there are approximately 2.2 million homes at risk, valued at more than $500 billion. Total exposure along the Gulf Coast is nearly $200 billion, with just under 1.8 million homes at risk for potential storm-surge damage.
“Though more frequently impacted states like Florida, Texas and Louisiana get the most attention when it comes to hurricane vulnerability and destruction, Hurricane Irene made it very clear last summer that hurricane risk is not confined to the southern parts of the country,” said Dr. Howard Botts, vice president and director of database development for CoreLogic Spatial Solutions. “That’s why we felt it was important this year to highlight storm-surge risk in a brand new way to establish a better understanding of exposure throughout the states that are most at risk of a direct hurricane hit. As we got a glimpse of during Irene, our 2012 report shows even a Category 1 storm could cause property damage in the billions along the northeastern Atlantic Coast and force major metropolitan areas to shut down or evacuate.”
Storm surge is triggered primarily by the high winds and low pressure associated with hurricanes, which cause water to amass inside a storm as it moves across the ocean before releasing as a powerful rush overland when the hurricane moves onshore. In addition to the property damage and potential lives lost to flooding, the speed and force associated with storm-surge waves can significantly increase geographic and economic impact in hurricane disaster areas.
According to Botts, “Homeowners who live outside of high-risk flood zones are not required to carry flood insurance under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and may not be fully aware of the risk storm surge poses to their home or property. When a storm strikes the coast, storm-surge flooding can inundate homes far inland and cause significant losses from powerful surge waters, damaging debris and standing water left behind.”
According to the 2012 report, Florida tops the list of states with the highest total number of properties at risk of being impacted by the effects of storm-surge risk at approximately 1.4 million homes and with the highest total potential exposure to damage at more than $188 billion. Louisiana ranks second in total properties at risk with nearly 500,000, while New York is second in total value of coastal properties possibly exposed at $111 billion. Differences in the rankings between the total number of properties and total property value at risk are due to varying levels of home values, trends in primary residence versus vacation homes, and population density between the states throughout the Atlantic and Gulf regions.
At the metro-level, cities examined in the analysis include New York, N.Y.; Virginia Beach, Va.; Miami, Fla.; New Orleans, La.; Tampa, Fla.; Boston, Mass.; Houston, Texas; Cape Coral, Fla.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Charleston, N.C.; Bradenton, Fla.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Mobile, Ala. and Corpus Christi, Texas. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, two of the top five and five of the top 20 most densely populated cities in the U.S. are located along either the Gulf or Atlantic Coast. The report reveals that the 10 cities with the highest total potential exposure to storm-surge damage represent more than two million properties, with total property value at risk exceeding $420 billion. The New York City metropolitan area, which encompasses northern New Jersey and Long Island as well, contains both the highest total number of properties as well as the highest financial exposure of properties at risk, with estimated values at more than $168 billion.
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