Coastal Hazards: “Going Green and Building Strong”

Summary

Coastal resilience means taking meteorological realities facing our coastlines into account so the impact of severe weather events can truly become a “bump in the road,” rather than an economic and environmental disaster for coastal communities. This is increasingly important based on both demographic and weather trends:

  • The latest census report indicates 39% of the United States population lives in coastal counties, and 22.9 million people live in properties at elevations less than 20 feet above high tide (2010 U.S. Census).
  • According to AIR Worldwide, the value of insured property in coastal counties from Texas to Maine totals approximately $10.6 trillion.
  • According to the Property Claims Services® (PCS®), seven of the ten most costly insured catastrophes in the U.S. were land-falling hurricanes. These storms resulted in an estimated $132 billion in total insured losses (in 2013 dollars) and caused damage in 28 states.
  • In addition to economic losses, these and other significant weather events destroyed numerous communities and left mountains of debris that overwhelmed landfills.
  • The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) believes that “building strong” is critical to helping coastal communities prepare for and respond to current and future storms. Building strong must include thoughtful land-use practices, low-impact design and construction, strengthening of homes and businesses, and making sure “green” structures also meet wind resistance and storm surge requirements.