Florence has potential to cause $5 billion in property damage

The Trent River (background) overflows its banks and floods a neighborhood during Hurricane Florence September 13, 2018 in River Bend, North Carolina. 

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As Hurricane Florence barrels through the Carolinas, billions of dollars in real estate are at risk of damage or destruction.

An estimated 250,000 homes in North Carolina will likely be affected initially by storm surge and wind, with the bulk of the damage in that state. Across North and South Carolina, Florence could cause $3 billion to $5 billion in insured property losses from wind and storm surge, according to CoreLogic. This does not include inland flooding that could be even costlier and more destructive.

The storm, while large, is not expected to be as destructive to property as Hurricane Irma was last year. That storm, which impacted five states from Florida through the Carolinas, caused $42 billion to $65 billion in insured and uninsured losses for both residential and commercial properties, according to CoreLogic estimates a few weeks after the storm.

Florence came ashore as a Category 1 hurricane, the lowest of the storm rankings, but water has historically caused more property damage than wind. Florence is an especially slow-moving storm, dumping an extremely high volume of water.

“While wind can commonly be the cause of broken windows and damaged roofs, flood water from storm surge and precipitation can enter a home or business and saturate flooring, walls and furnishings on the ground level or lower levels of the structure,” said Tom Jeffery, senior hazard scientist at CoreLogic. “In combination with the water is usually mud and various debris that either enters the structure or, in the case of large debris, can batter a residence to cause structural damage.”

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