According to one national agency, homes in Fort Myers are especially vulnerable to the powerful phenomenon known as a storm surge.
The list published by CoreLogic earlier this month ranked the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area sixth in the nation when it comes to vulnerability from storm surges – which are essentially floods near coastal regions caused by high winds and low-pressure water just off shore.
According to the report, there are 306,953 homes in Lee County and the greater Fort Myers area that are susceptible to flooding and damage from storm surges. This represents $62 billion in value. A significant percentage of these homes – 40,465 homes representing $89 billion – are at “extreme” risk, meaning they can be damaged by anything from a strong storm to a named storm like a tropical storm or hurricane.
Here’s why this matters: your home may not have flood insurance because it may not be in a flood zone as determined by FEMA.
FEMA evaluates risk by looking at areas that are susceptible to flooding based on the likelihood of an event that occurs, on average, once every 100 years or 500 years, respectively.
But FEMA doesn’t differentiate based on the severity of the storm, which means they more than likely underestimate how many homes could be impacted negatively by storm surges.
This means you could be unprotected because you don’t live in a FEMA-stipulated flood zone and thus don’t have flood insurance.
According to NOAA, storm surges represent the greatest threat from hurricanes – even beyond the strong winds. Not only can they destroy buildings through sheer brute force; they can also pose a risk of drowning to anyone caught up in them.
As we move deeper into this year’s hurricane season, it pays to be prepared be aware of the damage storm surges can bring. Make sure you have a hurricane plan, and know where you’ll go during an evacuation and how you’ll get there.
Stay prepared and keep watching the weather as we move through the months ahead.