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Three big-ticket ZIP codes at high risk for storm surge damage

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Updated: 6/09/2013 9:40 pm
PALM BEACH, Fla. (PBP) -- Three Palm Beach County ZIP codes — in Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter — remain in the top 10 in South Florida in terms of potential storm surge loss, according to a report issued last week.

Surge has the potential to damage some 4.2 million homes nationwide, valued at about $1.1 trillion, said the study by CoreLogic, a California-based real estate information provider.

Florida tops the state rankings with nearly 1.5 million properties at risk, accounting for $386 billion in total potential damage.

The study shows more than $658 billion of the $1.1 trillion in properties at risk — about 60 percent of it — is concentrated in 10 major metropolitan areas.

Second only to the New York area in the top 10 is the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area. It lists 6,599 properties, valued at an estimated $6.8 billion, at risk of hurricane-driven storm-surge flooding.

In the nearly impossible event of the entire Miami-Dade-Broward-Palm Beach area area being struck by a Category 5 storm, surge would damage a total of 239,910 homes, with a total value of $100.1 billion.

Three of South Florida’s top 10 ZIP codes are in Palm Beach County.
— 33480, which covers the Palm Beach area from Lantana Road to the Palm Beach inlet.
— 33410, which covers central Palm Beach Gardens, from Donald Ross Road to Northlake Boulevard between Military Trail and the Intracoastal Waterway.
— 33458, which covers the Jupiter area from Donald Ross Road to Jonathan Dickinson Park between Interstate 95 and Alternate A1A.

In CoreLogic’s 2011 report, its top 10 had a fourth Palm Beach County ZIP code, 33477, which covers coastal Jupiter west of Alternate A1A.
CoreLogic’s figures represent not necessarily where surge would be worst but where the combination of surge and high property values adds to big dollars.

For example, in the 2013 report, the second highest ZIP code, Palm Beach’s 33410, has only about 2,000 properties but is worth almost as much as the nearly 7,000 properties in the top-ranked 33156 area of southern Dade County, noted Thomas Jeffery, senior hazard scientist and lead author of the report.

Storm surge is less of a factor in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast than in areas to the south because water off the coast is deep and dissipates energy, and because ridges run near the shore.

But scientists have said even in a minimal storm, water would cover most or all of the barrier islands and the mainland right along the Intracoastal Waterway, and in a Category 5 storm, the ocean could rise up to 10 feet above normal in coastal Palm Beach County and up to 15 feet on the Treasure Coast.

Surge from even a Category 1 storm hitting the entire 120-mile-long coast — again, nearly impossible — would damage some 52,000 homes, totaling more than $15.8 billion, the study said.

CoreLogic also speculated that in a 1-foot rise in sea level, total properties at risk in the three-county South Florida region would nearly double to almost 340,000 from just under 132,000, and estimated value would increase to more than $94 billion from about $48 billion.
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