In early 2002, when the Blue Green Corporation hired Doug to sell land at Winding River Plantation in Bolivia, NC, he taught him to refer to hurricanes as “storms” and do all he could to change the subject if it came up. Talking about hurricanes while trying to sell real estate is like asking a Yankees fan to root for the Red Sox.
With Ian wreaking havoc on the Caribbean, Florida, and the Carolinas a few weeks ago, we are going against the grain and speaking openly about one of mother nature’s worst occurrences. Wish us luck!
A Little Peek at Facts
First, though, let’s take a quick peek at some interesting statistics about the population of the US and where it resides:
- About 94.7 million people, or about 29.1% of the total US population, lived in coastline counties in 2017, a 15.3% growth since 2000.
- 81.4% of the population lives in coastal states on 57% of the nation’s land. 37.4% of the population can be found in counties adjacent to the oceans and Great Lakes. These counties occupy less than 18% of the land.
- About 60.2 million people lived in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions – those most vulnerable to hurricanes. These areas added 8.3 million people between 2000 and 2017, a 16% increase.
- Florida’s net annual gain of 404,000 (or 1106 a day) new residents in 2021 has increased Florida’s population to over 22,000,000. Only Texas and California are more populated.
We think you get the point. Coastal states and cities are popular destinations for people escaping the brutal winters and high taxes of the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and New England. The first goal is to find a warmer climate; for many, it is also to live somewhat close to the ocean. So, if the trends are for more Americans to move closer to the sea and warmer climates, then don’t these people know about hurricanes?
It would be hard to believe that someone moving to a saltwater coastline is unaware that hurricanes are brewing in the oceans. The draw of living near a warm ocean is powerful, for here is where you’ll find more favorable weather, a plethora of beautiful, planned communities, a laid-back lifestyle, and tons of year-round activities.
However, the downside is that you must be on the lookout for storms instead of hurricanes. For example, Governor DeSantis announced that Ian is a 500-year floodplain storm – so they got to go back in history to find similar damage in that area.
Oh, and Florida is quite different from North Carolina in elevation. The highest peaks in most of Florida are overpasses, with most people living on 3’ – 10’ of elevation. In Brunswick County, we are blessed with higher inland elevations, such as Brunswick Forest boasting 30’ – 40’ above sea level, Ocean Ridge is 30-55’, and Compass Pointe is 25-40’, etc.
Below you can see the paths of 57 storms that have landed on the shores of the US since 1985 (Ian is not on the map below.) It is safe to say that even people who live inland in coastal states experience their level of storm hits. What is also true is that there is no actual safe place on the coast from Brownsville up to Bangor. Doug has some friends in Winston-Salem, which is easily 3 hours from the NC coast, who received a bunch of rain and experienced high gusts from Ian.
One other item worth mentioning about hurricanes is that over 80% of the damages (and therefore costs) come from flooding. Winds will always be responsible for some damage, but the water produces most of the damage. Did you see the damage to Ft. Myers beach? Devastating is an understatement.
And water damages occur in many ways. There is the obvious, such as water in buildings and homes and erosion, but in 2019 in downtown Wilmington, we experienced Florence. On Doug’s daily morning on the Riverwalk, he passes by the Federal Court House (formerly the US Customs House). Directly after Florence, none of the maintenance staff for the building came to check on the structure and air it out. What transpired during those 4-5 days was unimaginable. Mold spores grew inside the building because it was usually hot outside after a storm, and because they had some minor water intrusion in the building, it was like a terrarium inside. Today, over four years later, that building is still not inhabitable. They have been sucking out the moisture for four solid years, 24/7. Eventually, government officials decided to remove most of the drywall and replace all the windows. The repair cost to this building is astronomical now, and we still have no time on when it will reopen. Therefore, water damages come in all shapes and sizes and should be feared.
Hurricanes happen, and no place is without weather drawbacks. Since 1999, Doug has experienced two direct hits (relatively mild, though) and many drive-by’s. Before moving to Coastal NC in 1999, he lived north of Boston for seven years and experienced at least 4 Nor’easters – which is code for a wicked lousy winter storm. And before that, he spent three years in Milwaukee, where winter lasts seven months. No place is perfect. But if you are on the hunt for that Coastal NC home to retire in, then allow us at Carolina Plantations to help you with your search!