Flooding causes more property damage in the United States than any other natural disaster. According to a report by property data and analytics firm CoreLogic, more than 6.5 million homes along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts are at risk of storm surge flooding, and potentially face nearly $1.5 trillion in total reconstruction costs. Now would be a good time for those residents to check that they have flood insurance coverage in place.
Storm surge is water from the ocean that is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds swirling around a hurricane. This advancing surge combines with the normal tides and can increase the water level by 30 feet or more.
The increased risk includes 19 states and the District of Columbia, extending as far north as Maine and as far west as Texas.
States with highest number of properties at risk:
• Florida (2,488,277)
• Louisiana (738,165)
• New York (466,919)
• New Jersey (445,928)
• Texas (434,421)
States with highest value of reconstruction costs:
• Florida ($490,403,653,377)
• New York ($182,474,294,695)
• Louisiana ($161,062,467,382)
• New Jersey ($134,194,963,314)
• Virginia ($92,001,482,217)
The insured value of homes and businesses in coastal areas from Texas to Maine jumped almost 50% from 2004-2012, according to AIR Worldwide, which measures risk for insurers. Many homes at risk are in areas not designated as flood zones by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Home reconstruction value of homes in the Atlantic region is much higher the reconstruction value of homes in the Gulf. The total reconstruction cost value of homes along the Atlantic coast is nearly $951 billion, approximately double the value of at-risk properties in the Gulf region at just over $545 billion.
At the local level, the New York metropolitan area (including northern New Jersey and Long Island) contains not only the highest number of homes at risk for potential storm surge damage, but also has the highest total reconstruction value of homes exposed, at more than $251 billion. Florida and Texas are at risk mainly because of their extensive coastlines; Louisiana and New Jersey’s relatively low elevations allow storm surge flooding to spread farther inland and affect more homes.
Storm-surge areas are not the same as flood zones defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Homeowners who live outside the FEMA flood zones aren’t required to carry flood insurance, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not at risk of flooding.
Major metro area homes at risk of storm surge,not in FEMA flood zone
• Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News — 86 percent
• Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD — 85 percent
• Jacksonville, Fla. — 76 percent
• New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA — 68 percent