Hurricanes today cost more than ever before. Even when adjusted for inflation, modern storms still cost more than in the past. With more coastal development and costlier repairs and rebuilds, this comes as no surprise to many who have experienced this first hand. As of March 2019, the most recent storm to cause more than $25 billion in damages occurred during the 2018 season.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the most financially damaging hurricanes in history include:
Hurricane Rita, a Category 3 storm at landfall, hit near Beaumont-Port Arthur, right at the border between Texas and Louisiana. The September 2005 caused wind damage, storm surges, and flash flooding in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.
Hurricane Wilma was a record-breaking storm in a hurricane season full of record-breaking storms. The fifth major hurricane to make landfall in the southeastern U.S. during 2005, this late October storm was at one point the strongest hurricane ever recorded by meteorologists. Thankfully, it weakened significantly before it hit southwestern Florida as a Category 3 storm.
The only addition to this list not included in the original NOAA run down is Hurricane Michael. This Category 4 storm took aim at Mexico Beach and Florida’s Emerald Coast late in the 2018 hurricane season. The large storm affected Florida, Alabama, and Georgia, eroding beaches, knocking down trees, and leaving people without power for a week or more.
Hurricane Ivan was not a particularly strong storm when it made landfall as a Category 3 in 2004. Hitting near the border of Alabama and Florida in Gulf Shores, AL, the winds and flooding continued a track inland that affected not only the coastal states but Georgia and Tennessee, and as far north as New York and New Jersey.
Hurricane Ike made landfall along the Texas coast as a Category 2 storm on September 13, 2008. The damage caused by Ike had less to do with its power than its size. Storm surge affected both Texas and Louisiana, and there was wind damage that stretched across the entire eastern half of the country and parts of the midwest, from Texas to Pennsylvania.
The oldest storm on this list by more than a decade, anyone who lived in South Florida in August of 1992 cannot forget the devastation caused by Hurricane Andrew. Andrew made landfall just southwest of Miami as a Category 5 storm. The winds tore apart more than 100,000 homes, making it the most expensive natural disaster ever at the time.
Andrew went back out to sea and weakened to a Category 3 before later hitting the Louisiana coast and doing even more damage.
Irma was a Category 4 storm when it made landfall in the Florida Keys during September 2017. While its winds certainly caused damage, the storm surge and pounding rains caused flooding not only along the coast, but through central and northeastern Florida, southern Georgia, and even into South Carolina.
Unlike most hurricanes on this list, Sandy did not aim at Florida or a Gulf Coast state. Instead, this giant 2012 storm made landfall along the coasts of New York and New Jersey. Storm surge, flash flooding, and intense waves damaged more than half a million homes, took dozens of lives, and left many people without electricity for several weeks.
It is important to note that if we included Puerto Rico on this list instead of only the continental United States, 2017’s Hurricane Maria would fall in third place. This storm left the Caribbean island with more than $90 billion in damage. Almost two years later, some residents are still without power.
Another storm from the difficult 2017 season, Hurricane Harvey made landfall at Rockport, Texas, on August 25. The slow-moving Category 4 storm dumped more than 60 inches of rain in one week on parts of Texas and Louisiana. This led to catastrophic flooding and made Harvey one of only two hurricanes to cause more than $100 billion in damage in the United States.
Some have aptly referred to Hurricane Katrina as “the perfect storm.” While the August 2005 hurricane weakened to a Category 3 shortly before making landfall, New Orleans, Louisiana took an almost direct hit. The large storm brought with it a massive storm surge that overtook the low-lying areas of southeast Louisiana, as well as coastal Mississippi and Alabama.
When its levee system failed, much of the city of New Orleans flooded. Some residents were trapped and forced to ride out the storm in attics, on roofs, or in shelters. Winds and rain from Katrina caused damage in Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio.
If your home or business suffers damage in a hurricane, the Landau Law Group is here for you. Our hurricane damage claims lawyers can help you understand your insurance policy and coverages, take care of filing your claim, or take on the insurer who refuses to offer you a fair payout. Call us today at 866-703-4878 for a no-cost case evaluation.