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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 coming around once more. To assess hurricane risk and preparation level, we’ve gathered and sorted through plenty of data. We’ve then documented the states that are at most risk of hurricanes. Followed by an analysis of those states who are most prepared including North Carolina.

We’ve also provided a few tips for preparing your home for the coming hurricane season.

Risk of Hurricane Damage 

It’s probably safe to say that the folks in Colorado 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 provides a reasonable idea of 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

North Carolina ranks third on the list with 58 direct hits and seven major hurricanes. 

Of course, a hurricane doesn’t have to make a direct hit to cause considerable 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 where Cape Hatteras, Morehead City, and Wilmington are the top three with the most frequent encounters with hurricanes.

Risk of Storm Surge Damage

A storm surge is caused by high winds and low pressure in front of a hurricane. That builds a large mass of water pushing it 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.

Hurricane Preparedness by State

The analysis below takes the 18 states from the high-risk list above and adds two elements that illustrate preparedness for hurricanes. 

The response ranking is based on the number of National Guard members, 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 allocated to emergencies. Both are calculated on a per capita basis. The overall score comes from adding the two rankings.

Hurricane Preparedness by State

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

North Carolina ranked 16th overall, with response at 13th and budget ranked at 15th.

Hurricane Preparation Tips

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

  • Wind. Windows can take the full force of winds and flying debris. Then, when a window is broken, rain enters your home, as does the wind. That wind can literally blow off the roof. Use storm shutters or plywood to cover windows. Garage doors are a particularly weak defense against winds with their high surface area. Install a wind-load garage door for considerably improved protection.
  • Rain. A damaged roof can let rain into your attic, followed closely by inundating the rest of your home with rainwater. Have tarps ready to cover damaged areas after the storm has passed. Gutters and downspouts need to be clear. If not, water can spill over the top, onto your foundation, and find its way into your basement or crawl space, causing 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. After a hurricane has passed, it can often take several 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 North Carolina weather firsthand across the state and at our offices in Raleigh and Winston-Salem. We’ve helped quite a few people prepare their homes for severe weather, including hurricanes.

We can help 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 and repair estimate, contact the professionals at Tar Heel Basement Systems.

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TarHeel Basement Systems Service Map

Our Locations

Fayetteville Location

3400 Walsh Pky, Suite 220
Fayetteville, NC 28311

Greensboro Location

611 Summit Ave, Suite 5
Greensboro, NC 27405

North Raleigh

208 Millbrook Rd. Suite C
Raleigh, NC 27609

Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill Location

3333 Air Park Road
Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526

Wilmington Location

2155 Enterprise Dr. NE
Leland, NC 28451

Winston-salem / High Point Location

2910 Griffith Rd
Winston-Salem, NC 27103