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New Report on Florida Cities Most in Danger of Storm Surge Damage

Pekar Law, P.A. Sept. 28, 2015

Which Florida Cities Are Most Vulnerable to Storm Surges, and Why?

As most Florida residents are aware, Florida is a state beset by hurricanes. Storm surges, as well as heavy wind and rain , can be responsible for enormous damage to homes, businesses, and other property. In addition to having appropriate insurance, Floridians often require the services of a skilled property insurance claims attorney to help them negotiate with their insurance company when they have suffered extensive damage.

Unfortunately, according to a report recently released by Karen Clark & Company (KCC), four of the eight cities most vulnerable to storm surges are located in Florida. It is estimated that, if hit by a 100-year hurricane, the following cities in Florida would be affected as follows:

  • Tampa/ St. Petersburg #1, with losses of $175 billion

  • Miami #4, with losses of $80 billion

  • Fort Myers #5, with losses of $70 billion

  • Sarasota #7, with losses of $50 billion

Other United States cities identified at high risk for storm surges include New Orleans at #2, New York at #3, Galveston-Houston at #6, and Charleston at #8.

Features that make individual cities prone to storm surge damage include coastline features, depth of water at local sites (bathymetry), low coastal elevation and amount of valuable property at low elevation levels. In Tampa-St. Petersburg, for example, 50 percent of the population lives on ground elevations less than 10 feet, while in Fort Myers, most of the population does the same. Also, continental shelves that gently slope, and large shallow water areas, such as the inlets and bays along Florida’s coastline, produce larger storm surges and can create funnels of water.

Even though Miami’s coastal features, including a steep continental shelf and a coastline mostly free of bays and inlets, would seem to make it less vulnerable to sea surges, the high property values of Miami real estate near the coast at low elevations, create increased risk of serious damage by storm surges.

Strangely, according to this report, while the sea surface level is obviously influenced by the intensity of the winds, there is no strong correlation between wind speed and the magnitude of storm surges. What does often happen though, is that high winds causes trees and other objects to damage structures, allowing waters to enter. When this happens, the wind, not the water, is held accountable for the damage and even residents without flood enough, may be covered for their losses.

If you are faced with damage to your home, business or other property, you deserve to have a knowledgeable attorney working with you so that you can receive proper compensation. It is very important that you have an aggressive partner as you struggle to negotiate insurance claims. Jeff S. Pekar, Esq., serving clients throughout Florida, is ready to assist you.