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

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

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Hurricane season runs from June through November. Are you and your family prepared? How about everyone else? 

In this article, we’ve dug through a considerable amount of information to learn more about the areas that are most at risk, followed by those most prepared for hurricanes. We’ve also provided a few tips for your own preparation.

Risk of Hurricane Damage 

It’s probably safe to say that the folks in Nebraska are not very well prepared for hurricanes. Of course, since hurricanes aren’t expected there, they don’t need to be prepared. But who does need to be prepared?

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

Virginia ranks ninth on the list with 12 direct hurricane hits. Maryland is tied with Delaware for 15th with two direct hits. 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.

Risk of Storm Surge Damage

Hurricane storm surge is the most damaging and is the leading cause of hurricane-related deaths. It not only affects the coastline but also travels inland along rivers, bays, and estuaries.

High winds and low pressure in front of the hurricane form a storm surge by pushing a large mass of water onto the land. Considering that just one cubic yard of seawater weighs almost one ton, it can cause an enormous amount of damage. This happens both in front of the storm and when the hurricane leaves as it 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. Virginia Beach came in fifth with 397,722 single-family homes at risk and a total estimated reconstruction cost value of $95.59 billion.

Hurricane Preparedness by State

We’ve prepared the table below of the 18 states that have experienced hurricanes. The response ranking is based on the number of National Guard members on a per capita basis. It’s the National Guard that is usually the first responders deployed for a natural disaster. The emergency budget ranking is based on the state’s budget allocated to emergencies also on a per capita basis. The overall score comes from adding the two rankings.

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

Virginia and Maryland are ranked 13th and 15th respectively.

Hurricane Preparation Tips

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

  • Wind. Windows are the most vulnerable to winds and flying debris. Once a window is broken, not only does rain enter your home but also the wind can literally blow off the roof. Use storm shutters or cover windows with plywood. Doors can also be vulnerable, particularly garage doors. Install a wind-load garage door or use a hurricane shutter.
  • Rain. A damaged roof can let in rain. Have tarps ready to cover damaged areas. If your gutters, downspouts, and rainwater drainage system is clogged, water can find its way into your basement or crawl space causing flooding. So keep gutters and downspouts clear.
  • Flooding. The best preparation is to waterproof your basement. That includes repairing any cracks, adding a drainage system, and installing a sump pump with a backup battery. This can greatly reduce or eliminate any damage from flooding.
  • Power Loss. Once power is lost due to downed transmission lines, it can take a while to get things working again. Consider a small gasoline-powered 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 have locations throughout Maryland and Virginia including Baltimore, Washington D.C., metro area, Appomattox, Richmond, Roanoke, and Virginia Beach. We’ve helped quite a few people in the area prepare 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 JES Foundation Repair.