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Areas in the U.S. Most at Risk and Most Prepared for Hurricanes

We’ve identified the states most at risk of hurricanes, as well as those that are most and least prepared. See our timely tips on how you can prepare your home.

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As you well know, hurricane season runs from June to November. Hopefully, you, your family, and your home are ready for what 2021 might bring us.

We’ve sorted through the data to learn more about the states that are at the most risk of hurricanes. We’ve followed this with an analysis of those states that are most prepared including Florida.

We’ve also provided a few tips for preparing your home.

Risk of Hurricane Damage 

We can reasonably bet that the folks in the Dakotas are not at all prepared for hurricanes. They don’t need to be, either, because hurricanes have never ever hit the northern plains. So who should be prepared?

NOAA has published a table of hurricane direct hits by state from 1851 to 2020. That table tells us where we can reasonably expect the next hurricanes to hit over the next several years. In the list below, we’ve ranked the states by total hurricanes and included major hurricanes.

Hurricane Direct Hits by State 1851-2020

Ranking State Total Hurricanes Major Hurricanes
1Florida12037
2Texas6519
3North Carolina587
4Louisiana5818
5South Carolina305
6Alabama255
7Georgia223
8Mississippi198
9Virginia120
10Massachusetts121
11Connecticut112
12Rhode Island103
13New Jersey40
14Maine30
15Maryland20
16Delaware20
17Pennsylvania10
18New Hampshire10

Florida, naturally, ranks first on the list with 120 total direct hits and 37 major hurricanes. Of course, a hurricane doesn’t have to have a direct hit to cause damage. It can also cause damage from storm surges, heavy rains, flooding, and related tornadoes without ever directly hitting the coast. For more insight, see our article Worst U.S. Cities for Hurricane Damage that includes Miami, Cape Canaveral, Fernandina Beach, Saint Augustine, and Palm Beach.

Risk of Storm Surge Damage

High winds and low pressure in front of a hurricane push a large mass of water forming a storm surge. Since one cubic yard of sea water weighs almost one ton, all that water can cause an enormous amount of damage. 

CoreLogic’s 2020 Storm Surge Report identified residences at risk. They found 7,110,779 single-family and 252,657 multi-family homes at risk from a Category 5 hurricane.

They further broke down their analysis into the top metro areas at risk. Miami topped the list with 798,601 single-family residences at risk, totaling an estimated reconstruction value of $157.47 million. Tampa ranked third with 466,444 single-family residences and $83.42 billion reconstruction value. Fort Myers was sixth, Bradenton was eighth, Naples was ninth, and Jacksonville was 10th.  

Hurricane Preparedness by State

The analysis below takes the 18 states from the high-risk list above and adds factors that demonstrate preparedness for hurricanes. 

The response ranking is based on the number of National Guard members, the usual first responders in a disaster. The emergency budget ranking is based on the amount of a state’s budget that is allotted to emergencies. Both are rated on a per-capita basis. The overall score is the sum of the two rankings.

Hurricane Preparedness by State

Preparedness Ranking State Response Ranking Emergency Budget Ranking Overall Score
1Delaware325
2Louisiana516
3Rhode Island268
4Alabama459
5Mississippi189
6Connecticut10313
7South Carolina7714
8New Hampshire8917
9Georgia111021
10Florida18422
11Maine61723
12Massachusetts121224
13Virginia151126
14Pennsylvania91827
15Maryland141428
16North Carolina131528
17New Jersey161329
18Texas171633

Florida is ranked 10th overall, with response ranking 18th and budget ranking at fourth.

Hurricane Preparation Tips

There are four primary risks from a hurricane: wind, rain, flooding, and power loss.

  • Wind. Windows are extremely vulnerable to winds and flying debris. When a window is broken, rain enters your home as does the wind, which can literally blow off the roof. Use storm shutters or plywood to cover windows. Garage doors are also at risk. Install a wind-load garage door for considerably improved protection.
  • Rain. Damage on your roof can let rain into your attic followed closely by inundating the rest of your home. Have tarps ready to cover damaged areas
  • Flooding. Gutters and downspouts need to be clear. If not, water can spill over and cause flooding around your foundation. Also, make sure your exterior drainage system is free from blockage and ready to move water away from your foundation.
  • Power Loss. With extensive damage from hurricanes, it can take days to get power restored. Consider a small gasoline or propane generator to keep your food refrigerated, some lights on, and the radio going to keep you apprised of changing conditions. 

For more advice on hurricane preparation, see our article Hurricane Preparedness Week

We Can Help

We experience Florida weather firsthand across the state and in our office in Orlando. We’ve helped quite a few people prepare their homes for severe weather, including hurricanes.

We can help identify any issues with your home’s foundation that need to be addressed before a hurricane or tropical storm arrives. For a free inspection and repair estimate, contact the professionals at Florida Foundation Authority.

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FLORIDA FOUNDATION AUTHORITY

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Apopka, FL 32703