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The High Cost of Weather-Related Water Damage in the U.S.

Hurricanes can cause a staggering amount of water damage. Here’s some help with how to reduce and mitigate water damage to your home's foundation.

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From Katrina to Harvey and Maria to Sandy, there’s tremendous water damage caused by a hurricane’s heavy rainfall coupled with high winds and the devastating storm surge. As a prime example, it’s estimated that these four hurricanes combined caused $488 billion in damage.

We’ll review the costliest hurricanes, weather-related insurance claims, and more importantly, what you can do to reduce water damage to your home and its foundation.

Top Eight Costliest Hurricanes

Here’s the breakdown of the top eight costliest hurricanes.

  1. Katrina (2005), $176.3 billion. Flooding damage across Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, and Georgia. The storm surge exceeded 30 feet, causing levee failures and extensive flooding.
  2. Harvey (2017), $136.3 billion. Destroyed more than 200,000 homes and businesses. Some areas experienced more than 50 inches of rainfall.
  3. Maria (2017), $98.1 billion. Thirty-seven inches of rainfall caused widespread flooding in Puerto Rico. It devastated the island’s infrastructure with widespread power outages.
  4. Sandy (2012), $77.4 billion. Coastal storm surge damage in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. It caused 72 direct and 87 indirect deaths.
  5. Irma (2017), $54.5 billion. Storm surge damage along the coasts of Florida and South Carolina. It destroyed 25 percent of buildings in the Florida Keys. Irma had sustained wind of 185 mph for 37 hours, the longest in the satellite tracking era.
  6. Andrew (1992), $52.7 billion. There were 125,000 homes destroyed with at least 160,000 people homeless in Dade County, Florida. 
  7. Ida (2021), $50.1 billion. Destruction throughout Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. It’s estimated that Ida caused 95 direct deaths and 43 indirect deaths in the U.S.
  8. Ike (2008), $38.4 billion. Flooding damage in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Its impact on oil platforms, storage tanks, pipelines, and off-line refineries caused widespread gasoline shortages in the southeast U.S.

And it doesn’t stop with that short list. NOAA’s listing of billion-dollar weather and climate disasters for 1992 to 2021 lists 45 tropical cyclones, 30 floods, and 127 severe storms.

Weather-Related Homeowners Insurance Claims

Digging deeper by examining weather-related homeowners insurance claims, we find these most common causes of property damage.

  • Wind: 24 percent of claims, including damaged roofs, uprooted trees, and collapsed walls.
  • Hail: 16 percent of claims. Damage to roofs, windows, siding, and more.
  • Weather-related water: 11 percent of claims. Leaky roofs, frozen pipes, and ice damage.

In this claims information, there was also non-weather water damage from broken pipes and leaks at 20 percent, theft at six percent, and other claims that would include fires at 23 percent. The regional information shows that 46 percent of weather-related claims came from the South and only 12 percent from the Midwest. 

Flood Mitigation: Reducing Hurricane and Water Damage

As you can tell from the above, hurricanes are extremely costly weather events. They can and do kill. So it’s not only important to prepare your home to reduce hurricane damage, it’s just as important to prepare and protect your family. 

To help in that effort, we’ve prepared a detailed list of things you can do to prepare your home, prepare your family, and prepare for evacuation if it comes to that. 

There’s a great deal that can be done now to protect your home not only from hurricane damage but all types of flooding damage. 

  • Homes with basements.

By far the best approach is to install professional waterproofing with interior drainage and a sump pump with a battery backup. Supporting that effort is improved exterior drainage from properly sized and installed gutters and downspouts to landscape grading that moves water away from the foundation.

  • Homes with crawl spaces.

As with basement foundations, any cracks and gaps in the walls, joints, or vents can cause leaks and flooding. Add professional crawl space waterproofing and encapsulation to completely address flooding challenges.

  • Homes with slab foundations.

These types of foundations run the risk of settling and heaving over time with changing soil conditions. Flooding can greatly exacerbate these problems. Permanent stabilization with piers is the best way to go for slab foundations.

While hurricanes get the headlines, these mitigation approaches also work for the somewhat more mundane but no fewer damaging rainstorms, hailstorms, windstorms, snowstorms, and even ongoing rainy patches of weather.

We Can Help

To learn more about protecting your home from water damage, contact Groundworks, the nation’s leading foundation solutions company. Schedule a free inspection and repair estimate today with a local Groundworks basement waterproofing and repair specialist near you.

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