Risk of Hurricane Storm Surge Damage Threatens 6.5M U.S. Homes

July 10, 2014

CoreLogic, a global property information, analytics and data-enabled services provider, released its 2014 storm surge analysis featuring estimates on both the number and reconstruction value of single-family homes exposed to hurricane-driven storm surge risk within the United States.

According to the findings, more than 6.5 million homes along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts are at risk of storm surge inundation, representing nearly $1.5 trillion in total potential reconstruction costs. More than $986 billion of that risk is concentrated within 15 major metro areas.

This exposure could constitute significant risk for homeowners and financial services companies, as many at-risk homes lack protection from insurance coverage.

The analysis examined homes along the coastlines of 19 states and the District of Columbia in the Gulf and Atlantic regions, extending as far west as Texas and as far north as Maine. Florida ranks number one for the highest number of homes at risk of storm surge damage, with nearly 2.5 million homes at various risk levels and $490 billion in total potential exposure to damage.

At the local level, the New York metropolitan area, which encompasses northern New Jersey and Long Island as well, contains not only the highest number of homes at risk for potential storm surge damage (687,412), but also the highest total reconstruction value of homes exposed, at more than $251 billion.

To enhance accuracy, the storm surge analysis has been expanded from prior years’ reports to encompass additional categories of single-family residential structures including mobile homes, duplexes, manufactured homes and cabins, among other non-traditional home types. The addition of these categories, along with new construction, contributed to a higher number of total homes identified within potential surge areas. The values represent estimates of reconstruction costs, taking into account labor and materials, and are based on 100-percent or total destruction of the residential structure. Depending upon the amount of surge water from a given storm, there may be less than 100 percent damage to the residence, which would result in a lower realized reconstruction cost.

While scientific predictions are pointing to lower-than-normal storm activity for 2014, the risk of significant damage to homes is a constant threat.

“Though the 2013 hurricane season will be remembered for the fact that no storms made landfall along the U.S. coast, this reprieve from hurricane-related damage should not lead to complacency in preparing for future storms and the potential life-threatening conditions they can bring,” said Dr. Thomas Jeffery, senior hazard scientist for CoreLogic Spatial Solutions. “This year’s season is projected to be slightly below normal in hurricane activity, but the early arrival of Hurricane Arthur on July 3 is an important reminder that even a low-category hurricane or strong tropical storm can create powerful riptides, modest flooding and cause significant destruction of property.”

The 2014 analysis shows that total exposure varies significantly from state to state given differences in population, trends in residential development, geographic risk factors, length of coastline and other distinguishing factors. Florida and Texas, for example, are within the top five states for number of properties at risk primarily because of their extensive coastlines. Louisiana and New Jersey, on the other hand, have a smaller coastal area overall, yet are included in the top five list as a result of relatively low elevation that allows storm surge inundation to extend farther inland and affect more homes.

The concepts in this analysis also complement Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood zone information to provide a snapshot of potential damage exposure at the property level, as many properties located outside designated FEMA flood zones are still at risk for storm surge damage. The standard FEMA flood zones are designed to identify areas at risk for both freshwater flooding as well as storm surge based on the likelihood of either a 100-year or a 500-year flood event. They do not differentiate risk based on storm severity, and as a result, do not effectively define the total extent of the risk possible along coastal areas.

To illustrate varying degrees of flood risk exposure, homes that are not located within FEMA 100-year floodplains were compared against the number of homes located in surge inundation zones, as well as those located in both surge and FEMA Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA).

Homeowners who live outside the FEMA flood zones typically do not carry flood insurance, given that there is no mandate to do so, and therefore may not be aware of the potential risk storm surge poses to their properties. Among select major metro areas, Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC has the highest percentage of homes (86 percent) at risk of storm surge, but not designated in a FEMA flood zone. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD and Jacksonville, Fla. also top the list at 85 percent and 76 percent, respectively. Even in New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA, 68 percent of homeowners at risk of flood or surge inundation would not be required to carry flood insurance because they are not located within a designated FEMA 100-year floodplain.

Additional findings in the CoreLogic storm surge analysis include:

  • The five states with the highest total number of properties at risk include: Florida (2,488,277), Louisiana (738,165), New York (466,919), New Jersey (445,928) and Texas (434,421).
  • The five states (including the District of Columbia) with the lowest total number of properties at risk include: the District of Columbia (3,895), New Hampshire (10,853), Maine (23,439), Rhode Island (26,558) and Delaware (48,534).
  • The five states with the highest value of reconstruction costs for homes at risk include: Florida ($490,403,653,377), New York ($182,474,294,695), Louisiana ($161,062,467,382) New Jersey ($134,194,963,314) and Virginia ($92,001,482,217).
  • The five states with the lowest value of reconstruction costs for homes at risk include: District of Columbia ($394,437,173), New Hampshire ($2,649,086,294), Maine ($6,629,856,369), Rhode Island ($7,389,384,876) and Alabama ($10,333,310,460).

The reconstruction value of the homes exposed to storm surge damage in the Gulf is much less than the reconstruction value of homes in the Atlantic region. The total reconstruction cost value of homes along the Atlantic coast is nearly $951 billion, which is approximately double the value of at-risk properties in the Gulf region at just over $545 billion.

Storm Surge Risk Level
(Storm Category)
Total Homes Potentially Affected Total Estimated Reconstruction Cost (U.S. dollars)
Extreme (Affected by a Category 1-5 storm) 1,698,510 $410,311,136,086
Very High (Category 2-5) 1,422,302 $328,864,859,770
High (Category 3-5) 1,562,755 $358,386,053,345
Moderate (Category 4-5) 1,159,506 $267,920,396,772
Low (Category 5) 669,105 $131,010,761,964
Total 6,512,178 $1,496,493,207,937
Rank State Extreme Very High High Moderate Low Total
1 Florida $165,897,104,806 $87,833,392,383 $100,149,415,929 $66,285,325,433 $70,238,414,826 $490,403,653,377
2 New York $52,507,586,381 $44,946,290,850 $49,330,325,343 $35,690,092,121 N/A $182,474,294,695
3 Louisiana $32,093,743,120 $20,863,168,290 $60,324,715,609 $30,195,498,766 $17,585,341,597 $161,062,467,382
4 New Jersey $35,481,183,707 $52,757,497,109 $22,040,754,156 $23,915,528,342 N/A $134,194,963,314
5 Virginia $21,841,973,286 $24,727,761,843 $21,125,036,730 $17,984,142,912 $6,322,567,446 $92,001,482,217
6 Texas $7,087,911,852 $10,934,862,299 $19,093,100,616 $21,596,543,413 $17,844,003,459 $76,556,421,639
7 South Carolina $27,753,414,114 $12,587,049,770 $13,178,862,500 $9,042,760,201 $5,714,959,963 $68,277,046,548
8 Massachusetts $9,724,029,035 $17,005,251,525 $21,270,736,012 $14,998,153,704 N/A $62,998,170,276
9 North Carolina $15,240,651,298 $11,140,071,525 $10,815,898,891 $8,527,781,798 $7,845,320,710 $53,569,724,222
10 Maryland $11,856,448,820 $9,687,832,004 $6,433,018,198 $6,846,887,233 N/A $34,824,186,255
11 Connecticut $8,972,737,674 $8,000,267,149 $7,249,691,647 $8,755,618,092 N/A $32,978,314,562
12 Georgia $10,073,078,318 $9,827,457,212 $4,910,948,595 $3,312,344,274 $1,359,659,962 $29,483,488,361
13 Mississippi $2,909,086,132 $3,848,632,388 $5,094,422,106 $4,498,942,887 $1,793,435,179 $18,144,518,692
14 Pennsylvania $321,556,789 $5,809,547,530 $6,184,854,639 $4,806,610,676 N/A $17,122,569,634
15 Delaware $3,714,154,308 $3,297,365,039 $4,157,600,924 $3,836,711,320 N/A $15,005,831,591
16 Alabama $1,294,626,444 $2,345,175,836 $1,824,810,598 $2,561,638,760 $2,307,058,822 $10,333,310,460
17 Rhode Island $1,704,012,530 $1,755,100,803 $1,932,489,875 $1,997,781,668 N/A $7,389,384,876
18 Maine $1,404,632,358 $820,799,901 $2,195,324,309 $2,209,099,801 N/A $6,629,856,369
19 New Hampshire $433,205,114 $677,219,225 $972,432,591 $566,229,364 N/A $2,649,086,294
20 District of Columbia N/A 117,089 $101,614,077 $292,706,007 N/A $394,437,173
Total $410,311,136,086 $328,864,859,770 $358,386,053,345 $267,920,396,772 $131,010,761,964 $1,496,493,207,937
Region Atlantic Coast Homes (Potential) Atlantic Coast Structure Damage Exposure (Estimated) Gulf Coast Homes (Potential) Gulf Coast Structure Damage Exposure (Estimated)
Extreme 1,005,544 $269,585,189,074 692,966 $140,725,947,012
Very High 899,461 $228,229,456,329 522,841 $100,635,403,441
High 851,057 $214,135,275,085 711,698 $144,250,778,260
Moderate 677,692 $173,729,009,413 481,814 $94,191,387,359
Low 325,483 $65,241,738,808 343,622 $65,769,023,156
Total 3,759,237 $950,920,668,709 2,752,941 $545,572,539,228
Rank State Extreme Very High High Moderate Low Total
1 Florida 789,090 459,090 519,409 347,860 372,828 2,488,277
2 Louisiana 160,744 102,347 262,340 134,588 78,146 738,165
3 New York 128,462 114,949 132,179 91,329 N/A 466,919
4 New Jersey 116,613 178,037 74,284 76,994 N/A 445,928
5 Texas 44,569 70,732 110,487 114,945 93,688 434,421
6 Virginia 93,969 115,232 98,190 83,768 27,353 418,512
7 South Carolina 99,884 52,358 59,113 41,490 27,349 280,194
8 North Carolina 72,597 51,016 48,588 40,074 36,889 249,164
9 Massachusetts 31,023 65,124 73,781 48,985 N/A 218,913
10 Maryland 47,825 39,807 27,740 28,719 N/A 144,091
11 Georgia 38,891 48,394 26,513 18,136 8,087 140,021
12 Pennsylvania 1,468 45,582 37,860 32,007 N/A 116,917
13 Mississippi 15,071 20,871 28,644 26,408 10,828 101,822
14 Connecticut 25,227 23,350 22,187 26,462 N/A 97,226
15 Alabama 7,365 12,765 10,182 14,080 13,937 58,329
16 Delaware 11,497 10,416 13,016 13,605 N/A 48,534
17 Rhode Island 6,635 5,972 6,731 7,220 N/A 26,558
18 Maine 5,254 2,942 7,558 7,685 N/A 23,439
19 New Hampshire 2,326 3,317 3,194 2,016 N/A 10,853
20 District of Columbia N/A 1 759 3,135 N/A 3,895
Total 1,698,510 1,422,302 1,562,755 1,159,506 669,106 6,512,178
Rank Metropolitan Area Total Properties Potentially Affected by All Categories of Hurricane Total Reconstruction Value
1 New York, NY 687,412 $251,038,846,466
2 Miami, FL 562,410 $103,160,570,812
3 Tampa, FL 444,765 $79,149,326,645
4 Virginia Beach, NC 394,705 $87,178,838,156
5 New Orleans, LA 381,149 $85,679,653,561
6 Cape Coral, FL 299,508 $60,430,683,073
7 Bradenton, FL 227,821 $42,955,130,837
8 Houston, TX 216,880 $41,903,647,756
9 Philadelphia, PA 213,668 $42,204,432,570
10 Naples, FL 177,651 $41,259,312,520
11 Jacksonville, FL 174,180 $36,509,802,458
12 Boston, MA 169,102 $46,713,411,965
13 Charleston, SC 108,045 $27,880,315,028
14 Lafayette, LA 106,166 $21,266,042,348
15 Myrtle Beach, NC 104,707 $19,373,709,040
Total 4,268,169 $986,703,723,235
CBSA Total Homes Exposed to Flood or Surge Inundation Total Homes in Both a SFHA and a Surge Zone % of Homes in Both a SFHA and a Surge Zone Total Homes Located Only in a FEMA SFHA % of Homes Located Only in a FEMA SFHA Total Homes Located Only in a Surge Zone % of Homes Located Only in a Surge Zone
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC 395,584 55,115 13.9% 879 0.2% 339,590 86%
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 230,074 17,775 7.7% 16,406 7.1% 195,893 85%
Jacksonville, FL 187,861 30,653 16.3% 13,681 7.3% 143,527 76%
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH 187,801 29,936 15.9% 18,699 10.0% 139,166 74%
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL 113,172 19,857 17.5% 10,858 9.6% 82,457 73%
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 725,020 192,202 26.5% 37,608 5.2% 495,210 68%
North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL 230,344 83,795 36.4% 2,523 1.1% 144,026 63%
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 25,462 3,788 14.9% 7,225 28.4% 14,449 57%
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL 300,988 140,736 46.8% 1,480 0.5% 158,772 53%
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 481,525 197,875 41.1% 36,760 7.6% 246,890 51%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 338,090 51,114 15.1% 121,210 35.9% 165,766 49%
Baton Rouge, LA 127,719 29,864 23.4% 37,228 29.1% 60,627 48%
New Orleans-Metairie, LA 383,991 211,871 55.2% 2,842 0.7% 169,278 44%
Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL 180,489 104,514 57.9% 2,838 1.6% 73,137 41%
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL 1,191,134 356,400 29.9% 628,724 52.8% 206,010 17%

Source: CoreLogic

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