Cities Journal

Miami Tops The List Of Cities Most At Risk Of Hurricanes


In the United States, the Atlantic and the Gulf coasts are notorious for being regularly pummeled by hurricanes and storms, often causing devastation of biblical proportions and putting thousands, if not millions, of lives at risk.

Two more recent hurricanes that most of us remember are hurricanes Katrina and Sandy which claimed human victims – more than 1,500 in the case of Katrina – and the combined damage of $200 billion.

Hurricanes are a very serious threat, but due to the fact that they are not regular events, which causes  many people forget all about them until it is too late.

The people from 24/7 Wall St. website have decided to remind everyone of how devastating hurricanes can be and in order to do this; they did some number-crunching and came back with a list of 15 American cities that would be most direly affected by a hurricane in their area.

One of the main problems they encountered trying to do this is that hurricanes are extremely unpredictable and it is excruciatingly difficult to determine any trends or patterns that might indicate where the next big one will hit.

They did, however, settle on a number of factors to include in their research, such as the estimated construction costs for various metro areas along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. They also looked at the number of homes at risk and population density in those areas. They also used the damage estimates and fatality numbers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for further data.

It is hardly a surprise that Miami topped the list. It has by far the largest number of properties that are at risk of being damaged by a major hurricane. This number is larger than 780,000 and it would cost approximately $140 billion to reconstruct the Miami metro area in the case of a catastrophic hurricane. The situation in Southern Florida is further complicated by a boom in construction and immigration that has occurred since the last major hurricane in the area, Andrew hit this part of the coast in 1992.


New York is the second most at-risk American city according to 24/7 Wall St. and there are a few reasons for this. While it is less likely to be hit by a strong hurricane than more southern parts of the Atlantic coast, New York is a humongous metro area with more than twenty million people calling it home. As a result of this, the costs of reconstruction could go over $260 billion. Hurricane Sandy, which was not even technically a hurricane by the time it struck the New York area, wreaked havoc in New York in 2012 and a stronger hurricane would do much more damage.

According to the 24/7 Wall St. research, the third most endangered city in the U.S. is Tampa, which has actually gone quite some time without being struck by a serious hurricane. The last time the area was hit seriously was in 1921 when the Tampa Bay Hurricane flooded much of the city. There are more than 450,000 properties at risk in the city and the reconstruction would cost more than $80 billion. Tampa is particularly vulnerable due to the most of the city being spread wide across a low-lying area.

New Orleans suffered a disaster of impossible proportions in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit the city. Up to 2,000 people lost their lives, more than a million had to leave their homes and the total cost to the region was more than $150 billion. The government’s less than stellar response only made things worse. Finding New Orleans on the list was expected, we can all agree.

One of the more surprising entries on the list is Virginia Beach and its metro area which is extremely low-lying and is at serious risk of flooding should a hurricane hit the area. Back in 2003, Hurricane Isabel did exactly that, hitting eight states, including Virginia. It is estimated that more than 385,000 properties could be damaged and that reconstruction would cost more than $83 billion.

If you want to find out which 10 cities also made the list (it is very Florida-heavy), make sure to visit the 24/7 Wall St. website.




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