On September 14th, 2018, Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina and close to bordering state, South Carolina. The hurricane brought heavy rainfall to the area for four solid days, amounting to over 30 inches of rain in some areas. The National Weather Service (NWS) categorized it as a “one in a thousand year rainfall event,” and it has also been noted as the “second wettest storm in history” after Hurricane Harvey.
The excess rain from Florence caused major flooding across the coast, affecting over 2,600 commercial buildings and over 600,000 homes with some amount of water damage. Some areas were hit harder than others. In New Bern, North Carolina for example, the city has estimated that the total residential damage is at approximately $74.5 million and commercial damage is around $25.6 million. An updated report from Moody’s Analytics has places the total damage caused by Hurricane Florence somewhere between $38 billion and $50 billion in damage and economic losses.
One concerning finding by data modeling firm CoreLogic is that uninsured losses from Florence will most likely outpace insured losses. This is because many of the homes that suffered damage from Florence were outside of the federal government’s special flood hazard areas, and thus were not required by law to obtain flood insurance. A similar trend occurred during Hurricane Harvey.
Costs of hurricanes vary greatly based on both the severity of the storm as well as the region affected by it. In the case of Hurricane Florence, while the storm did ravage the coast and cause devastating damage to multiple communities, the cost of the destruction will not likely reach the heights of last year’s storms, mainly due to the difference in population densities in the paths of Florence versus Maria or Irma. Had the storm moved slightly towards more populated areas either north or south of the area in which it made landfall, the damage – especially commercial damage – would have likely been much worse.
Now one month after Hurricane Florence made its way across the coast of the Carolinas and Virginia, many coastal residents and businesses are still struggling to recover. Some areas in central North Carolina had to deal with even more rain and wind as Hurricane Michael continued Northeast after devastating the Florida Panhandle.
With only a few more weeks left in the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, agents – especially those who specialize in coastal insurance and property insurance – should urge their clients to review their policies and make necessary preparations to ensure they aren’t caught off guard if another storm happens to make its way toward the coast.
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