Special Report

Cities Where Hurricanes Would Cause the Most Damage

10. Jacksonville, FL
> Total properties at risk of hurricane damage:
> Cost of reconstruction: $35.8 billion
> Population: 1,449,481
> Last serious hurricane: Dora

The Jacksonville area, located along the Atlantic coast, is one of six cities in Florida on this list. With Florida likely the most vulnerable of U.S. regions to storms, rebuilding these cities — and homes across the state — in the event of catastrophic hurricane damage would be an incredibly expensive undertaking. Including islands, bays, rivers, and the full seacoast, Florida’s shoreline spans 8,436 miles, a longer shoreline than every state except for Alaska. To help ensure area homes can withstand wind-borne debris during hurricanes, Florida introduced new building codes in 2002, after Hurricane Andrew — one of the most devastating hurricanes in U.S. history — devastated much of the state.

9. Naples, FL
> Total properties at risk of hurricane damage:
> Cost of reconstruction: $43.2 billion
> Population: 357,305
> Last serious hurricane: Wilma

The Naples metro area, located in Southwest Florida on the Gulf of Mexico, is home to around 180,000 residential properties at risk of serious damage from storm surge. In the event of catastrophic hurricane damage, it would require $43.2 billion to rebuild these homes, one of the most costly potential rebuilding projects of all areas vulnerable to hurricane damage. Like most cities in Florida, new homes built in Naples are subject to building codes designed to protect against flood and storm damage. The last serious hurricane to make landfall in the Naples area was Wilma, which was tied to more than 60 deaths and caused more than $20 billion of damage across the state.

8. Bradenton, FL
> Total properties at risk of hurricane damage:
> Cost of reconstruction: $47.3 billion
> Population: 768,918
> Last serious hurricane: Wilma

Florida is likely the most susceptible state to hurricanes — well over 100 Category 1 or higher storms made landfall in the state since 1852. The Bradenton area, located in the western part of the state, was directly hit by serious storms fewer times than most of the state’s coastal cities. Still, the city has more than a quarter of a million homes at risk, with the total estimated cost of reconstruction after a serious hurricane approaching $50 billion.

7. Houston, TX
> Total properties at risk of hurricane damage:
> Cost of reconstruction: $51.9 billion
> Population: 6,656,947
> Last serious hurricane: Rita

A hurricane has not made landfall in the Houston area since 2008, when Hurricane Ike caused as many as 112 deaths and an estimated $33 billion in damage across the region. In 2005, like a number of other cities along the Gulf Coast, Houston was slammed by Hurricane Katrina. The impact on the Houston area from the mass influx of refugees from New Orleans may have been even greater than the damage from the storm itself. According to the The Texas Tribune, the number of evacuees in Houston peaked around 250,000.

6. Cape Coral, FL
> Total properties at risk of hurricane damage:
> Cost of reconstruction: $62.0 billion
> Population: 701,982
> Last serious hurricane: Charley

Cape Coral, Florida, is located on the Gulf Coast near Fort Myers. The area was nearly directly hit in 2004 by Hurricane Charley, a Category 4 storm. Damages to thousands of homes and businesses amounted to an estimated $600 million. Things could have been much worse, as there are more than 300,000 homes at risk of serious flooding damage from hurricanes, with the costs to repair those properties totalling an estimated $62 billion, more than 10% of the total repair costs for the state as a whole.

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