15 Cities at Greatest Risk From Storm Surges

Paul Ausick

Coastal Storm Waves
Source: Thinkstock
The first hurricane of the 2014 season hit the East Coast of the United States just ahead of the Independence Day holiday weekend. Although the Hurricane Arthur caused only moderate damage, the storm was a wake-up call to coastal cities along the East and Gulf Coasts. More than 6.5 million homes along these coasts are at risk of inundation from a storm surge, with a potential $1.5 trillion rebuilding cost.

Well over half that risk — $986 billion — is centered in just 15 major metropolitan areas, according to CoreLogic, which issued on Thursday its 2014 Storm Surge Report.

The five states with the greatest potential value at risk from storm surge incidents are Florida ($490.4 billion), New York ($182.5 billion), Louisiana ($161.1 billion), New Jersey ($134.2 billion) and Virginia ($92 billion).

The 15 metropolitan areas facing the most potential property damage are led by New York City, where more than 687,000 properties are at risk, with a total reconstruction value of more than $251 billion. High property values in New York and the large number of properties in the metro area combine to put the potential damage at about 2.5 times greater any other metro area. Here is the full list, ranked in order of properties at risk:

  1. New York City: 687,412 properties with a reconstruction value of $251.0 billion
  2. Miami: 562,410 properties valued at $103.2 billion
  3. Tampa: 444,765 properties valued at $79.1 billion
  4. Virginia Beach, N.C.: 394,705 properties valued at $87.2 billion
  5. New Orleans: 381,149 properties valued at $85.7 billion
  6. Cape Coral, Fla.: 299,508 properties valued at $60.4 billion
  7. Bradenton, Fla.: 227,821 properties valued at $43.0 billion
  8. Houston: 216,880 properties valued at $41.9 billion
  9. Philadelphia: 213,668 properties valued at $42.2 billion
  10. Naples, Fla.: 177,651 properties valued at $41.3 billion
  11. Jacksonville, Fla.: 174,180 properties valued at $36.5 billion
  12. Boston: 169,102 properties valued at $46.7 billion
  13. Charleston, S.C.: 108,045 properties valued at $27.9 billion
  14. Lafayette, La.: 106,166 properties valued at $21.3 billion
  15. Myrtle Beach, N.C.: 104,707 properties valued at $19.4 billion

In some of these cities, CoreLogic notes, homeowners are required to purchase flood insurance if their properties are located within the FEMA 100-year floodplains. But if a property is not within a designated flood zone, flood insurance is not required and many homeowners do not purchase it.

For example, of the 394,000 properties at risk in Virginia Beach, nearly 14% are located in both a FEMA flood zone and a surge zone, and mortgage lenders would require flood insurance on these homes. Nearly 86% of the properties are located only in a surge zone where flood insurance is not typically required.

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