Hurricane season can be one of the most nerve-wracking times of the year for Americans living on the coast. The period runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, although severe storms can also occur outside of those dates. While the number of storms that reach U.S. shores varies from year to year — as does their intensity — it only takes one storm to potentially damage hundreds of thousands of homes and cause tens of billions of dollars in damage.
The three elements of a hurricane — wind, precipitation, and storm surge — are also what makes them so wildly destructive. Storm surge, or the water that is pushed on shore by a hurricane, can be particularly destructive. Flooding caused by storm surge is often the most damaging aspect of a hurricane to infrastructure and people’s homes. The extent of such damage can be seen in these before and after pictures of the worst hurricanes in American history.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed the number of homes at risk and the estimated construction costs that would be required to replace these homes should they be damaged for U.S. metro areas along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from data analytics company CoreLogic. The 15 cities vulnerable to the greatest damage are listed in order of the number of homes at risk of destruction from flooding due to storm surge.
Many of the metropolitan areas where hurricanes would cause the most damage have been hit by recent hurricanes such as last year’s Florence and Michael. Others have been fortunate to avoid seriously damaging storms for a number of years. Charleston, South Carolina, for example, has not seen a major hurricane since Hugo hit in 1989. That storm destroyed 26,000 homes in the region. Should a storm of that magnitude hit Charleston today, far more homes could be destroyed. Some storms have been even more destructive than Hugo. These are the most powerful hurricanes of all time.
The cyclical threat of hurricanes presents itself every year. And as the populations of many of these metro areas grow, and as the coastlines continue to be built and developed, the risk of damage due to storm surge increases.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed the number of homes at risk and the estimated construction costs for U.S. metro areas along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from data analytics company CoreLogic. The 15 cities vulnerable to the greatest damage are listed in order of the number of homes at risk of destruction from flooding due to rainfall and storm surge. Population figures for the surrounding metropolitan areas are as of 2018 and are from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS).