Hurricane Michael is expected to be the strongest hurricane to hit Florida’s Panhandle in decades, with life threatening storm surges, flooding and high winds.  2018 has already seen over $45 billion dollars in catastrophic damage and estimated 37 fatalities from hurricane Florence alone.  If you live in a hurricane watch or warning zone, make sure you are prepared.

To assess the devastating impact that hurricanes have had on individuals and families across the US, SafeWise examined five years of hurricane data from 2013-2017 and calculated the total monetary damage in each state, as well as Puerto Rico.4 We also looked at injuries and fatalities by state to encourage people who live in hurricane and tropical storm zones to heed evacuation warnings and make sure they are prepared for the worst.

2017 was the most expensive year on record for weather-related disasters across the US, racking up an estimated $310 billion in damage.¹ That beats the previous record ($219 billion in 2005) by almost $100 billion. Topping 2017’s list of billion-dollar weather events were three hurricanes—Harvey, Maria, and Irma. Of the $310 billion in weather-related damage in 2017, hurricanes accounted for a whopping 86%.

States with the Most Monetary Damage

Rank State Population Monetary Damage Statewide Cost Equivalent per person
1 Texas 25,145,561 $61.8 billion $2,445
2 Mississippi 29,67,297 $22.5 billion $7,606
3 Puerto Rico 3,725,789 $14 billion $4,032
4 Florida 18,801,310 $7.6 billion $405
5 North Carolina 9,535,483 $981 million $103
6 South Carolina 4,625,364 $286 million $62
7 Georgia 9,687,653 $116 million $12
8 New Jersey 8,958,013 $32 million $4
9 Alabama 4,779,736 $22 million $5
10 Virginia 6,547,629 $11 million $1

infographic of states where hurricanes cost the most

Hurricane Damage in Dollars

To find out just how much monetary damage* hurricanes cause, we looked at five years of hurricane data and tallied up the costs. Here’s a peek at some of our findings:

  • Texas leads the way with more than $61 billion in monetary damage.
  • Texas racked up nearly $40 billion more than the next closest state, Mississippi ($22 billion).
  • If the cost of hurricane damages were divided equally among all Texans, each person would get a bill for $2,445.
  • Mississippi is the most expensive state for hurricane damage per capita with a whopping $7,606 per person.
  • Virginia had the 10th largest monetary damage in the nation, but it would only cost every Virginian $1 to pay their share.
  • Four US locales saw more than a billion dollars in losses due to hurricanes: Texas, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, and Florida.               

*Monetary damage includes property and crop damage estimates.

Deadliest States for Hurricanes*

Rank State Population Total Fatalities Total Injuries
1 Puerto Rico 3,725,789 2,975 0
2 Texas 25,145,561 97 0
3 Florida 18,801,310 87 43
4 North Carolina 9,535,483 30 4
5 Mississippi 2,967,297 16 64
6 South Carolina 4,625,364 6 2
7 Georgia 9,687,653 6 18
8 Alabama 4,779,736 2 6
9 Rhode Island 1,052,567 1 0
10 Massachusetts 6,547,629 1 1
*SafeWise calculated the total numbers of hurricane-related injuries and deaths recorded over a five-year period from 2013-2017. This includes injury due to flooding, lightning, and any other weather event attributed to a hurricane.

How to Prepare for a Hurricane

Preparation is your best defense when it comes to hurricanes. Here are SafeWise’s top recommendations to help you stay safe and mitigate costly damage during 2018’s hurricane season.

  • Create an emergency and evacuation plan
  • Make sure you have the right insurance in place (flood, etc.)
  • Know evacuation routes if you live near the coast
  • Stock up on supplies like batteries, flashlights, and a first-aid kit
  • Make sure you have plenty of water and nonperishable food
  • Fuel up vehicles and keep extra fuel on hand
  • Consider a portable generator in case you lose power 
  • Never run your generator inside, to avoid the risk of CO poisoning
  • Board up windows and doors
  • Tie down or otherwise secure outdoor objects
  • If you live in a flood zone, get ready with sandbags and other safeguards
  • Stay updated about the storm’s progress on TV, radio, or the internet
  • If told to evacuate, get on the move immediately

Methodology

SafeWise analyzed data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United States Census Bureau for the information in this article. We examined reports of severe weather events from 2013–2017 to identify those that were related to or caused by hurricanes, then sorted the data by number of fatalities and injuries (both direct and indirect) as well as the estimated monetary value of any property or crop damage.

Sources

  1. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information, “Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters: Overview
  2. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, “Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters: Table of Events
  3. CNN, “Hurricane Florence’s toll on US homes and businesses has now hit 11 figures
  4. Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, “Ascertainment of the Estimated Excess Mortality from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico
  5. The Weather Channel, “Hurricane Michael Intensifies to Category 2; May Be Florida Panhandle’s Strongest Landfall in 13 Years Wednesday”

Written by Rebecca Edwards

Rebecca has honed her safety and security skills as both a single mom and a college director. Being responsible for the well-being of others helped her learn how to minimize risk and create safe environments. Learn more

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