Special Report

Cities Where Hurricanes Would Cause the Most Damage

5. Virginia Beach, VA-NC
> Total properties at risk of hurricane damage:
> Cost of reconstruction: $83.5 billion
> Population: 1,724,876
> Last serious hurricane: Isabel

In 2003, Hurricane Isabel dealt about $5 billion in damages across eight U.S. states. The largest share of the damages was an estimated $925 million in Virginia. Virginia Beach is a relatively low-elevation metropolitan area, and thousands of area residents live 5 feet in elevation above sea level or less. Some hurricanes can cause storm surge well in excess of 10 feet. Corelogic estimates that there are more than 385,000 Virginia Beach homes at risk of damage from storm surge during a hurricane.

4. New Orleans, LA
> Total properties at risk of hurricane damage:
> Cost of reconstruction: $94.0 billion
> Population: 1,262,888
> Last serious hurricane: Katrina

The state of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans have each been slammed by a number of serious hurricanes, including Category 3 Betsy and Category 5 Camille. However, nothing in the history of the city or the country comes close to either property damage or loss of life sustained during 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. Somewhere between 1,200 and 2,000 people died, more than a million were displaced, and floods and fires cost the region more than $150 billion. Surrounding areas in Louisiana and Mississippi were also impacted, but New Orleans was hit directly and sustained the lion’s share of the damage. If such a storm were to hit again, 390,000 homes in the city would be at risk, with costs to repair those homes totalling an estimated $94 billion.

3. Tampa, FL
> Total properties at risk of hurricane damage:
> Cost of reconstruction: $80.6 billion
> Population: 2,975,225
> Last serious hurricane: 1921 Tampa Bay Hurricane

Compared to many Florida cities, Tampa has been generally spared from hurricanes. The last serious hurricane struck Tampa more than 80 years ago. However, previous events may not be indicative of future ones, and the city is by many measures one of the most vulnerable places in the country for serious flooding damage due to hurricane storm surge. The widespread, low-lying area is home to nearly 3 million houses that are at risk of damage. The costs of reconstruction from a serious hurricane could come to more than $80 billion.

2. New York, NY
> Total properties at risk of hurricane damage:
> Cost of reconstruction: $260.2 billion
> Population: 20,182,305
> Last serious hurricane: Sandy

While very high intensity storms are more likely to occur in the southern part of the Eastern Seaboard or in the Gulf Coast, they nevertheless can happen in the northern part of the country. Further, because of cities such as New York, Category 1 hurricanes and even tropical storms can be highly costly to a city. This was the case in the Greater New York metropolitan area, when Hurricane Sandy hit the region just before Halloween 2012. A full moon and high tide boosted storm surge, and an estimated 37,000 homes were destroyed or damaged in the area. Subway tunnels were flooded and damaged so severely that the city is still struggling to repair them four years later. Sandy was only a Category 1 hurricane, and was actually downgraded to a superstorm shortly before it made landfall. Still, the storm resulted in $62 billion in damages. If a serious hurricane were to hit the New York area, CoreLogic estimates nearly 720,000 homes to be at risk, with the potential cost of reconstruction estimated at $260.2 billion.

1. Miami, FL
> Total properties at risk of hurricane damage:
> Cost of reconstruction: $143.9 billion
> Population: 6,012,331
> Last serious hurricane: Andrew

Florida is hit by more hurricanes, on average, than any other state. In the 20th century, more than 60 hurricanes made landfall in the Sunshine State. However, it has been more than a decade since a major storm struck Florida. Hurricane Wilma was the most recent hurricane to impact the state, making landfall in the southern part of the state in 2005. The last serious hurricane to hit Miami was 1992’s Andrew — a Category 5 storm. Andrew destroyed or damaged more than 125,000 homes in Southern Florida and Louisiana. The $45.9 billion in damages Andrew left behind made it the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history at the time. Since 1992, Southern Florida has been substantially developed, and CoreLogic estimates that more than 780,000 homes are at risk of damage from storm surge, and that reconstruction would cost $143 billion.

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