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Millions of homes exposed to storm-surge threat, report reveals

Posted On Thu, June 6, 2013

According to weather experts from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, hurricane activity is expected to be heightened this year, with as many three to six major hurricanes predicted to form. Whether or not this projection pans out, a substantial number of coastal properties are at risk of being damaged, new data shows.

According to property analytics firm CoreLogic, there are more than 4 million homes that lie along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, all of them within range of storm surges that can result from hurricane activity. Traditionally, residences near to the ocean are the most at risk for storm surge, given their proximity to the water and that hurricanes gather most of their strength over water as opposed to land.

Home values are substantial as well. CoreLogic notes that an estimated $1.1 trillion in property exposure is on the line, which could lead to a substantial number of home insurance claims under worst case scenarios.

Florida has highest number of properties at risk of storm surge
While all coastal properties have at least some storm-surge risk, the threat of damage is largely concentrated in about a dozen regions. The report indicates that more than half - $658 billion - of the $1.1 trillion in property exposure is confined to 12 major metropolitan statistical areas. Many of these MSAs are in Florida, the state most likely to be affected by hurricane damage of them all. Second to the Sunshine State is Louisiana, where some 411,000 homes are in storm-surge zones.

However, in terms of the state with the highest total value of residential property that's vulnerable to damage, New York tops them all at $200 billion.

"Public awareness of the risk hurricane-driven storm surge poses to coastal homeowners has never been higher coming off the heels of Hurricane Sandy last fall," said Howard Botts, vice president of spatial solutions at the Irvine, California-based analytics firm. "Sandy was a harsh reminder of the potential destruction associated with storm-surge flooding, and of just how many communities are vulnerable to that risk, in areas typically assumed to be relatively safe from hurricanes along the northeastern Atlantic shoreline."

In addition to reviewing home insurance quotes, coastal homeowners are advised to prepare their properties in the event a hurricane affects their residence. The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides a comprehensive list of planning measures that can be done before, during and after a hurricane.

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