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6.5 million homes at risk from storm surges

Photo from CNN
Monday, July 14, 2014 - 8:00am

Every summer, residents along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean coasts brace themselves for the hurricane season. An analysis of storm surges found that 6.5 million single family homes are at risk from flooding during this year's hurricane season, according to property researcher CoreLogic.

Given that oceanfront homes are among the most valuable properties along the coasts and also in the front line of incoming storms, the costs related to such flooding are also high.

Floods from storm surges represent a collective $1.5 trillion in potential reconstruction costs, CoreLogic said.

When tropical storms strengthen, their winds and low pressure causes water to gather. The mass of water can strike the shore and surge over low-lying lands.

Even when hurricanes are not in the highest category, storm surges can occur, warns Thomas Jeffrey, a senior hazard scientist for CoreLogic.

The forecast for this season is for slightly less storm activity than normal.

"But the early arrival of Hurricane Arthur on July 3 is an important reminder that even a low-category hurricane or a strong tropical storm can create powerful riptides, modest flooding and cause significant destruction of property," he said.

Superstorm Sandy is a prime example. By the time it hit the Atlantic Coast in 2012, it did not even meet the strict definition of a hurricane but still managed to do an estimated $68 billion in damage from the water surge it caused along the coast line. Only Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, cost more.

There are 19 states in the paths of the Atlantic and Gulf storms.

Densely populated Florida, with its shallow elevation, is most at risk. There are 2.5 million homes that could get hit with a potential damage cost of nearly $500 billion.

Other vulnerable states are Louisiana, where 750,000 homes are at risk, New York had 466,919 homes, New Jersey 445,928 and Texas 434,421.

 

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