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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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Hurricane season is upon us from June to November. Are you and your family ready? 

In this article, we’ve sifted through the data to learn more about the states that are at most risk of hurricanes. We’ve followed this with an analysis of those states that are most prepared including South Carolina.

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

Risk of Hurricane Damage 

It’s probably safe to say that the folks in Wyoming are not very well prepared for hurricanes. Of course, they don’t need to be prepared because hurricanes aren’t expected anywhere near the Rockies. But who should be prepared?

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

Hurricane Direct Hits by State 1851-2020

Ranking State Total Hurricanes Major Hurricanes
3North Carolina587
5South Carolina305
12Rhode Island103
13New Jersey40
18New Hampshire10

South Carolina ranks fifth on the list with 30 direct hits and five 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 Myrtle Beach.

Risk of Storm Surge Damage

High winds and low pressure in front of a hurricane push a large mass of water onto the land, forming a storm surge. Since just one cubic yard of sea water weighs almost one ton, all that water can cause an enormous amount of damage. This happens both in front of the storm and when the hurricane leaves as the water flows back to the ocean.

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, New York, Tampa, and New Orleans topped the list. In our state, Charleston ranked 12th with 158,280 single-family residences at risk with a reconstruction cost value of $41.58 billion. Myrtle Beach was next at 13th with 132,738 single-family residences and $24.93 billion in reconstruction costs.

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 on a per capita basis. This is because the National Guard is usually the first group deployed to help in a natural disaster. The emergency budget ranking is based on the amount of a state’s budget that is allocated to emergencies. It is also calculated on a per capita basis. The overall score comes from adding the two rankings.

Preparedness Ranking State Response Ranking Emergency Budget Ranking Overall Score
3Rhode Island268
7South Carolina7714
8New Hampshire8917
16North Carolina131528
17New Jersey161329

South Carolina is ranked seventh overall with both response and budget ranking at seventh.

Hurricane Preparation Tips

There are four primary risks you face 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. Install a wind-load garage door for considerably improved protection.
  •  Rain. A damaged roof can let rain into your attic followed closely by the rest of your home. Have tarps ready to cover damaged areas. Gutters, downspouts, and the rainwater drainage system need to be clear. If not, water can find its way into your basement or crawl space and cause flooding.
  • Flooding. The best preparation for your home is to waterproof your basement. That includes repairing any cracks, adding a drainage system, and installing a sump pump with a backup battery that can take over during power outages. All this can greatly reduce any damage from flooding.
  • 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 South Carolina weather firsthand across our offices in Columbia, Charleston, and Greenville. We’ve helped quite a few people prepare their homes for severe weather including hurricanes.

We can also help identify any issues with your basement or crawl space that should be addressed before a hurricane arrives. For a free inspection and repair estimate, contact the professionals at Mount Valley Foundation Services.

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