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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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With hurricanes headed our way sometime between June and November, we thought it would be a good idea to look at the states that are most at risk followed by those most prepared. Toward that goal, we sorted through a great deal of data and conducted some analysis. 

Here are our lists of most at risk and most prepared. Plus, don’t miss our tips for preparing your home for the coming hurricane season.

illustration areas in US most at risk and most prepared for hurricanes

States at Risk of Hurricane Damage 

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

Hurricane Direct Hits by State 1851-2020

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

Alabama ranks sixth with 25 direct hits and five major hurricanes. Tennessee, since it’s not on the coast, didn’t make the list. But hurricanes can cause considerable damage from heavy rains, flooding, and tornadoes even well away from the coast or the direct line of the storm.

Risk of Storm Surge Damage

A storm surge is caused by high winds and low pressure directly in front of the hurricane’s path. That builds a large mass of water with the hurricane pushing it directly onto the coast forming a storm surge. 

To get an idea of the power of a storm surge, consider that a mere one cubic yard of sea water weighs almost one ton. Of course, the full surge is far more than a cubic yard of water. All that comes crashing through buildings, homes, and anything else in its way.

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. The estimated reconstruction value is $1.7 trillion for single-family homes and $95 billion for multi-family homes. 

Hurricane Preparedness by State

Our fairly straightforward analysis takes the 18 states from the high-risk list above and evaluates two elements that demonstrate preparedness for disasters including hurricanes. 

The response ranking is based on the number of National Guard members by state. This is usually the first group deployed in a natural disaster and a good indicator of the ability to respond to disasters. 

The emergency budget ranking is based on the amount of a state’s budget allocated to emergencies and disasters. 

Both are then compared on a per-capita basis to develop the two rankings. The overall score is the sum of both 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

Alabama ranked fourth overall, with response at fourth and budget at fifth.

Hurricane Preparation Tips

Wind, rain, flooding, and power loss are the four primary risks of a hurricane.

  • Wind. The weakest parts of your home when faced with hurricane-force winds are the windows and the doors. When either one of those is breached, the wind enters your home and can literally raise the roof. Nail plywood over your windows or install storm shutters that can be closed when a hurricane threatens. Also, consider a wind-load garage door, as this doorway is particularly vulnerable to hurricane winds.
  • Rain. Rain can enter your home through a damaged roof. It can also enter your basement or crawl space from pooling around the foundation. Keep your roof repaired by replacing missing shingles. Keep your gutters and downspouts clear so they can route water off the roof and away from the foundation.
  • Flooding. With heavy rains, flooding around your home can easily happen. The best preparation is to waterproof your basement. That needs to include repairing 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. Hurricane winds can easily snap power poles, shutting down all electrical power. It could also take days and even weeks to restore power. A small gasoline generator can power your appliances, keep your food refrigerated, and charge your cell phone to help with communication. Without a generator, you can keep food frozen for up to two days by keeping the doors closed.

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

We Can Help

We experience all the elements of our changeable weather from our offices in Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville.  We’ve helped quite a few people prepare their homes for severe weather, including hurricanes.

We can identify any issues with your basement or crawl space that need to be addressed before a hurricane or tropical storm arrives. For a free inspection, contact the professionals at AFS Foundation and Waterproofing Specialists.

PROUDLY SERVING ALABAMA, GEORGIA, KENTUCKY AND TENNESSEE

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Huntsville, AL

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Knoxville, TN

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Mobile, AL / Biloxi, MS

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Montgomery, AL / Columbus, GA

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Nashville, TN

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