Hurricanes to threaten more than 32 million U.S. homes

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Hurricanes are expected to threaten more than 32 million homes across the coastal United States this year. 

A report released Wednesday from real estate analytics firm CoreLogic Inc. said the homes – both single-family homes and homes in multi-unit buildings – were at moderate to greater risk from the damaging winds of a hurricane. 

In addition, CoreLogic reported that close to 8 million of the homes had either direct or indirect coastal exposure and subsequent risk from storm surge and other hurricane danger.

The firm said that while hurricane wind damage is “generally insured for most homes,” flood insurance is not “uniformly purchased” and that up to 70% of damages from flood to homes is uninsured.

The report – which E&E News said provides the first measurement of wind risk amidst climate change – calculated that at-risk properties have a combined reconstruction cost value of trillions, with an adverse effect on economically disadvantaged residents and communities.

Additionally, while storm surge was shown to be less of a headache than wind damage, most properties in the line of storm surge are also at the risk of wind and hurricane damage.

CoreLogic noted that the figures were based on the assumption of total destruction of the structure and did not include the value of the land or lot.

“When lower income communities are hit with disaster, it can be even more challenging to recover. Many lower-income communities may not have the ability to afford insurance, or know their house is at risk of hurricane damage,” the group pointed out. 

“When homes are destroyed, many uninsured homeowners are left with few options. Damaged homes, often unsuitable for habitation, mean that people are displaced, living in motel rooms and elsewhere and spending money on new, added expenses. Their place of work may be damaged, locking them out of earning income,” it wrote.

For example, Louisianans are still rebuilding and continue to live in campers or next to the cement slabs where their houses once stood after Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Delta slammed areas of the state last fall.

CoreLogic also pointed out that mortgage delinquency rates rise significantly as homeowners, crippled by expenses and lost wages, fail to make monthly mortgage payments, and said the impact of a changing climate continues to increase risk in hurricane-prone areas.

Using 40 years of data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information, the report said total inflation-adjusted weather-related losses in the U.S. have increased by between 70% and 90% every decade.

A weathered sign advertises fresh shrimp from a stand owned by Shirley Gray and her husband in Cameron, La. Hurricane Laura last year destroyed one of their boats, heavily damaged another and destroyed much of their equipment. (AP Photo/Rebecca Santana)

Noting that the “trend” was not slowing, CoreLogic said many observed increases were driven by population migrations to high-risk and more affordable coastal areas subject to climate-related issues.

Some of those problems include rising sea level, extreme rainfall events and increases in hurricane intensity.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season, which began on June 1 and extends through Nov. 30, is forecast to be “above-normal.” 

NOAA researchers predicted a likelihood of 13 to 20 total named storms in 2021, with six to 10 likely to become hurricanes and three to five likely to become major hurricanes.

In a city-based analysis of risk from damaging winds and storm surge, CoreLogic reported that the New York City metropolitan area had the greatest estimated reconstruction value, totaling $1.7 trillion.

Miami took second place on the Florida-heavy rankings, with New Orleans, Virginia Beach and Houston in the top 10.

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