Miami Flooding From Tropical Storm Emily Reminder of Coastal Cities at Risk From Storm Surge

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Residents of Miami are cleaning up their homes and offices Wednesday as the remnants of Tropical Depression Emily exited the Florida city after dumping between 4 and 7 inches of rain. The tropical storm was lowered to a depression Monday night before moving out to the Atlantic; however, rain still pelted the Miami-Dade area on Tuesday.

Cars stalled out on city streets because of flood waters and residents took to kayaks and paddleboards for alternate forms of travel. The downpour was so intense that people were left stranded at work or at home. Heavy rain also caused delays at local airports.

With hurricane season in full swing, the downpour in Miami serves as a reminder that forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict 2017 will be a worse-than-average hurricane season, with between 11 and 17 named storms, including two to four major hurricanes.

A recent report from 24/7 Wall St. said nearly 6.9 million homes, with a total reconstruction cost value of more than $1.5 trillion, are at risk of damage from flooding caused by hurricanes. In that report, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the number of homes at risk and the estimated construction costs for U.S. metropolitan areas along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from data analytics company CoreLogic.

Of the cities and metro areas most vulnerable to the greatest damage from flooding because of rainfall and storm surge, Florida has six in the top 10: Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach; Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater; Cape Coral-Fort Myers; North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton; Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island; and Jacksonville.

Miami topped the list. Of all U.S. metropolitan areas, Miami has the most homes and the highest total property value at risk of flooding from a hurricane. It’s been awhile since a hurricane unleashed its full fury on Miami. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew, a Category 4 storm, made landfall in Miami-Dade. The storm destroyed more than 125,000 homes and caused nearly $50 billion in damage, adjusted for inflation.

A study from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is extremely pessimistic about the impact of flooding on coastal cities, among them Miami. If the sea level rises five feet, Miami would be 94% flooded. That forecast is for 100 years out and based on information from the U.S. Geological Survey.

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