CoreLogic: Nearly 4 Million Homes at Risk for Storm Surge Damage
By: Tory Barringer
CoreLogic’s third annual Storm Surge Report, released Thursday, showed that just over four million homes in the United States are at risk of hurricane-driven storm surge damage.
According to the report, there is $700 billion in total property exposure in the Gulf and Atlantic Coast regions, the areas most likely to face storm surge activity. The Gulf Coast houses just under 1.8 million homes at risk for potential storm-surge damage (totaling nearly $200 billion in exposure), while the Atlantic Coast has approximately 2.2 million homes at risk ($500 billion in exposure).
Dr. Howard Botts, VP and director of database development for CoreLogic Spatial Solutions, explained that recent disasters have shown that the Gulf Coast is not the only vulnerable area when it comes to storm surges.
“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 Botts. “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.”
Botts went on to explain that homeowners who live outside of high risk flood zones are not required to carry flood insurance under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). These homeowners may not necessarily be aware of the risk for damage from storm surge flooding that can sometimes come inland.
According to this year’s report, Florida ranked as the state with the highest total number of properties at risk of storm surge damage (1.4 million homes) and the highest total potential exposure to damage (more than $188 billion). Louisiana had the second-most number of properties at risk (500,000), while New York took second place for value of exposed properties ($111 billion).
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, two of the top five and five of the top 20 most densely populated cities in the country are located along either the Gulf or Atlantic Coast. The ten cities most at risk for storm surge damage have more than two million properties between them, totaling more than $420 billion in property value at risk.
CoreLogic developed the Storm Surge Report to increase understanding of the risks that storm surges pose to homes in areas prone to tropical storms. The report clarified that all figures were based on the potential for damage from a hurricane-driven storm surge, not single storms. Still, Botts warned that even weak storm activity can cause major problems.
“The summer of 2011 gave us some startling insight into the damage that even a weak storm can cause in the New York City metro area,” said Botts. “Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm as it passed through New Jersey and New York City, but the impact of the storm was still estimated at as much as $6 billion. Economic losses mounted swiftly as businesses shuttered, the New York City mass transit system came to a sudden halt and emergency response teams were called into action to prepare for the worst.”
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