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10 States at Greatest Risk of Storm Surge Damage.

Byline: Hannah Bender, PropertyCasualty360.com

Although hurricanes are usually associated with southern coastal states, Hurricane Irene and even more recently, Hurricane Sandy serve as reminders that these are not the only states at risk.

In 2011, Hurricane Irene caused more than $15 billion in damages in the Northeast, reaching as far north as Vermont and New Hampshire. In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy became the second-costliest hurricane in U.S. history.

Affecting 24 states, including the entire eastern seaboard, Sandy caused more than $50 billion in property damage and destroyed 650,000 homes.

No geographic region along the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Ocean is safe from hurricane damage, and in turn, storm surges. More than 4 million properties valued at $1.1 trillion are exposed to storm surge damage, triggered by high winds and low pressure associated with hurricanes.

For insurers, being aware of the areas at risk can aid in the understanding of potential water damage exposure from storm surges, particularly for those who may not be aware of their risk or who do not fall within Federal Emergency Management Agency's flood zones.

A state's total risk of exposure depends on a variety of factors, including trends in population and residential development, geographic risk factors and length of the coastline. In its 2013 Storm Surge Report, CoreLogic took these elements into account to compile a list of states with the most properties susceptible to storm surge damage.

Click through the following slides to see which states are at the most risk of storm surge damage.

10. Massachusetts

Total potential properties at risk: 107,657

Total potential exposure to storm surge damage: $50,284,887,752 (Ranks 9th)

States in the northeast can feel the impact of hurricanes, including those as far north as Massachusetts.

9. Georgia

Total potential properties at risk: 118,004

Total potential exposure to storm surge damage: $20,520,284,057 (Ranks 12th)

8. South Carolina

Total potential properties at risk: 196,784

Total potential exposure to storm surge damage: $65,582,551,882 (Ranks 6th)

Charleston rounds out the top 10 U.S. metropolitan areas at risk for storm surge.

7. North Carolina

Total potential properties at risk: 232,212

Total potential exposure to storm surge damage: $65,186,373,970 (Ranks 7th)

6. New York

Total potential properties at risk: 270,458

Total potential exposure to storm surge damage: $134,977,084,630 (Ranks 2nd)

Population density and property value, especially in the New York metropolitan area, are responsible for New York's high ranking in both potential property damage and potential exposure for surges. No homes in New York City are considered in the "low risk" category for surges, and Hurricane Sandy proved how just a category 1 could impact the area. Nearly 116,000 homes in the New York metropolitan area alone were damaged by Hurricane Sandy, which was only a category 1 hurricane when it first made landfall in the New York metro area.

5. Virginia

Total potential properties at risk: 329,234

Total potential exposure to storm surge damage: $78,044,300,879 (Ranks 4th)

4. New Jersey

Total potential properties at risk: 350,577

Total potential exposure to storm surge damage: $118,796,101,231 (Ranks 3rd)

New Jersey's low elevation increases the state's risk for storm surges. In the last 100 years, the sea level along the New Jersey coast has risen over a foot, contributing to the increased risk in surges, and they are expected to continue rising. Professor of geology Daniel P. Schrang of Harvard University, was quoted in the Harvard Gazette, saying the 13-foot surge in New Jersey caused by Hurricane Sandy "will be the new norm on the Eastern seaboard."

3. Texas

Total potential properties at risk: 369,577

Total potential exposure to storm surge damage: $50,947,847,377 (Ranks 8th)

Along its coastlines, Texas has long, gently sloping shelves, and the water is relatively shallow. This geographic feature produces relatively small waves, but increases storm surges. The shelf permits the surge to accumulate ahead of the storm, then pushed ashore with the movement of the hurricane. Cities along the Gulf of Mexico, particularly Houston and Corpus Christi are largely affected by hurricanes and surges.

2. Louisiana

Total potential properties at risk: 411,052

Total potential exposure to storm surge damage: $71,937,718,435 (Ranks 5th)

Though Louisiana does not have an expansive coastline, low elevation is responsible for putting it at risk. Hurricane Katrina proved just how damaging storm surges can be in Louisiana, particularly in New Orleans. Although improved levees and pumping systems were constructed in the aftermath of Katrina, Hurricane Isaac in 2012 resulted in an 11-foot surge, causing significant flood damage. CoreLogic predicts that just a one foot rise in ocean levels would succeed in putting another 2,000 homes at risk for storm surges in New Orleans, worth approximately $300 million.

1. Florida

Total potential properties at risk: 1,478,858

Total potential exposure to storm surge damage: $386,479,005,701 (Ranks 1st)

With 1,197 miles of coastline, it is no surprise that Florida comes in at number one for the most potential properties at risk, as well as having the most potential exposure to storm surge damage. Five of the top ten metro areas in the United States at risk for storm surge are located in Florida, including Miami, Tampa, Cape Coral, Naples and Bradenton. In Tampa alone, nearly 301,045 properties are at risk, more than Massachusetts and Georgia combined.
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Publication:Property and Casualty 360
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Jun 6, 2013
Words:916
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