Special Report

Cities Where Hurricanes Would Cause the Most Damage

15. Lafayette, LA
> Total properties at risk of hurricane damage:
> Cost of reconstruction: $25.8 billion
> Population: 490,488
> Last serious hurricane: Andrew

Lafayette, located about 135 miles west of New Orleans in the southern central part of Louisiana, was not directly hit by Hurricane Katrina like the Big Easy was. Still, the city is at risk of serious hurricanes and has been in the path of some of the largest in state history, including Betsy in 1965 and Andrew in 1992. There are nearly 120,000 properties in the Lafayette area at risk of damage due to flooding from a hurricane. The costs to rebuild the homes at risk would amount to $25.8 billion.

14. Myrtle Beach, SC
> Total properties at risk of hurricane damage:
> Cost of reconstruction: $21.6 billion
> Population: 431,964
> Last serious hurricane: Hugo

City regulations in Myrtle Beach require homes in certain locations be built 3 feet above base flood elevations — minimum heights above sea level based on Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regulations. Areas below the first floor of the homes in these areas must also be ventilated so floodwaters can flow through in the event of a storm surge. These measures would certainly help minimize damage in the event of a hurricane. However, against a cataclysmic weather event such as a Category 5 hurricane, costly damage would be nearly impossible to avoid. If such a hurricane were to strike the Gulf Coast, rebuilding Myrtle Beach’s approximately 123,000 homes would cost an estimated $21.6 billion.

13. Boston, MA
> Total properties at risk of hurricane damage:
> Cost of reconstruction: $38.5 billion
> Population: 4,774,321
> Last serious hurricane: Bob

Boston is the northernmost city at risk of catastrophic damages from hurricanes. But while the likelihood of hurricanes making landfall is lower in Boston, New England is no stranger to destructive storms. Since 1851, the state has been hit by 10 Category 1 or higher hurricanes, including Bob in 1991. While Hurricane Bob was only a Category 2 event at landfall, it still caused massive property damage in Boston and the surrounding area, with the total damage to homes throughout New England estimated at $1.5 billion. Today, a serious hurricane could severely damage nearly 130,000 homes and cost Boston residents and businesses $38.5 billion in reconstruction costs.

12. Charleston, SC
> Total properties at risk of hurricane damage:
> Cost of reconstruction: $36.2 billion
> Population: 744,526
> Last serious hurricane: Hugo

South Carolina has been hit by 30 hurricanes since the 1850s, including Hurricanes Hazel in 1954 and Hugo in 1989, both Category 4 events that caused millions of dollars in damages to the region. Hugo made landfall just north of Charleston, causing the city $7 billion in damages as winds exceeded 100 miles per hour in the city. As many as 80% of roofs in the city were damaged. Charleston has a number of regulations for new homes built within parts of the city at high risk of flooding. There are, according to CoreLogic, roughly 145,000 such homes in the Charleston area at risk of damage from storm surge.

11. Philadelphia, PA
> Total properties at risk of hurricane damage:
> Cost of reconstruction: $31.9 billion
> Population: 6,069,875
> Last serious hurricane: Sandy

Philadelphia is located on the East Coast roughly 60 miles from the ocean. The further north along the Atlantic coast a city is located, the less likely it is to be affected by a hurricane. However, all areas along the coast are vulnerable to some degree to catastrophic storms, and it is very difficult to predict where a hurricane will strike. Hurricane Sandy devastated cities along the northern Atlantic shoreline. While Philadelphia escaped the brunt of the storm, Sandy knocked out power for about a million area residents.

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