May 28--Nearly 374,000 residences in Southwest Florida are threatened by hurricane storm surge, with a potential rebuilding cost surpassing $77 billion.
For the fifth consecutive year, Sarasota-Manatee ranked eighth among major U.S. metro areas for storm surge risk, according to a study released on Thursday by real estate database CoreLogic.
As the 2020 hurricane season begins on Monday, Florida remains the state with the most homes at risk from a storm surge and with the highest reconstruction cost in the country.
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Some 7.36 million homes along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts sit in danger from hurricane-driven waves.
"Storm surge has historically been the deadliest and most destructive hazard we deal with," said Thomas Jeffery, principal of science and analytics at CoreLogic. "Now, with hurricane preparedness and response logistics potentially compounded by the pandemic, it has never been more important to pay attention to storm warnings and prepare for the possibility of hurricanes making landfall this year along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts."
Hurricane Irma tore through Southwest Florida as it traversed the state in September 2017, the first hurricane to strike the area since Charley in 2004.
Forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season this year, with a 70% probability of 13 to 19 named storms, with three to six of those growing into major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher.
In Sarasota and Manatee counties, 266,719 single-family and mobile homes and 3,248 multifamily units are in areas of low to extreme storm surge risk, CoreLogic said. They have an estimated reconstruction value of $54.63 billion.
In Charlotte County, 103,691 homes and multifamily units are potential storm surge victims, with an estimated rebuilding cost of $23.11 billion.
Florida has the most exposure in the U.S. to storm-surge flooding, with 2.93 million vulnerable residences. They would cost more than $602 billion to rebuild.
The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area ranked first nationally with 798,601 homes facing storm surge danger. Tampa-St. Petersburg was third, with 466,444, and Cape Coral-Fort Myers was sixth, with 335,574.
The price to rebuild the residences along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts would cost nearly $2.6 trillion, CoreLogic said.
"Hurricane-driven storm surge is one component of land-falling hurricanes that can cause extensive property damage," Jeffery said. "While most people associate hurricanes with wind, it is important to expect and prepare for the inevitable flooding since that is often responsible for considerable damage."
Analysts had previously estimated up to $38 billion in flood damage from Irma in Florida and other states, with up to 80% of the damaged homes without flood coverage.
The typical homeowners' insurance policy does not cover damage from flooding caused by storm surge or inland flooding. Losses from those perils are covered under the National Flood Insurance Program.
The hurricane season begins as the local and state economies continue to struggle after shutting down from the coronavirus pandemic. Record high unemployment is already elevating mortgage delinquency rates among homeowners, and they could accelerate if a storm caused extensive property damage.
CoreLogic bases reconstruction estimates on the total destruction of the residential structure.
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