Florida at greatest risk of storm surge damage this year

A map of homes at risk of storm surge damage in South Florida
A map of homes at risk of storm surge damage in South Florida

The Sunshine State stands to lose the most if a hurricane makes landfall this year, as more than 2.5 million homes in Florida are at risk of being damaged by storm surge, according to a CoreLogic report.

Among Florida’s most endangered zones are the cities of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, which have 564,913 single-family homes in storm surge risk zones. Should all those homes become damaged in the next hurricane, reconstruction costs could reach $105 billion.

The report separated the homes into risk levels, which rise or lower depending on the category of the hurricane. Almost 200,000 of South Florida’s homes — including mobile homes, cabins and other non-traditional residences — could be affected by the weakest of hurricanes, a category 1.

The risk for hurricane damage is actually greater in the New York metropolitan area, which has 685,152 homes in areas that could be affected by flood waters. The area’s reconstruction cost more than doubles that of South Florida, estimated at $244 billion, according to the report.

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On a statewide level, the number of homes at risk in Florida more than triples the next-highest state, Louisiana, which has 760,272 homes in storm surge zones. Though Louisiana has the second-highest number of homes at risk, the majority of homes are only in danger of damage from a category 2 or higher storm, due in part to the region’s upgraded levee system.

Coastal states with the least risk of hurricane flood damage include Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, Washington D.C. and Rhode Island.

“The number of hurricanes each year is less important than the location of where the next hurricane will come ashore,” said Dr. Tom Jeffery, senior hazard risk scientist for CoreLogic, in a statement. “It only takes one hurricane that pushes storm surge into a major metropolitan area for the damage to tally in the billions of dollars. With new home construction, and any amount of sea-level rise, the number of homes at risk of storm surge damage will continue to increase.” — Sean Stewart-Muniz