Residents of West Florida recently braced as Hurricane Hermine plowed into the Gulf of Mexico. Shifting rapidly from a tropical depression to a hurricane, the storm threatened to do significant hurricane damage to Florida's Gulf Coast. As a recent article in USA Today pointed out, Hermine was the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida in 11 years. It touched down as a Category 1 hurricane "just south of Apalachicola, Fla., dumped heavy rain, and sustained winds of 80 miles per hour," the article reported. While the maximum sustained winds reached only 80 miles per hour, gusts of up to 100 miles per hour were recorded. The last hurricane to strike Florida was Hurricane Wilma, which made landfall in 2005.
The center of the storm-where the most damage typically occurs-missed the Tampa Bay area, sparing residents the high winds associated with the walls around the eye of the hurricane. However, according to a recent report from the Tampa Bay Business Journal, the "Tampa area could take the brunt of the economic impact of Hurricane Hermine."
We Need to Look at More than Landfall When Determining Hurricane Damage
As the Tampa Bay Business Journal report explains, despite the fact that Hermine hit struck Florida in the Big Bed area, which is well north of Tampa, "landfall is not the only consideration when evaluating damages." Indeed, as one meteorologist explained to the Journal, "when you get these hurricane events, a lot of the focus is on where the center of the storm comes ashore." However, even though the strongest winds may be at the center of a hurricane, "often times, like what we're seeing with Hermine, is some of the greatest impact is well away from the center." In the case of Hermine, the meteorologist clarified, the area of greatest impact "is within the Tampa Bay area."
When we move beyond the center of a hurricane and consider areas affected by other parts of the storm, what kind of damage are we typically looking for? As the report explains, wind damage is not usually a serious problem in areas well away from the center of the storm. Instead, flooding tends to cause serious damage to property, including homes and vehicles. In particular, homes that are near the Pinellas beaches or Tampa's Bayshore Boulevard are in especially low-lying areas. As such "even a typical summer afternoon thunderstorm can cause flash-flooding" in these places. When you consider the rainfall from a hurricane, the damage can be even more severe.
Economic Costs of Flooding in the Tampa Bay Area
When flooding occurs in low-lying parts of the Tampa Bay area, the sheer cost of repairing damage caused by flooding is not the only economic factor to take into account, the Journal report highlights. Flooding often results in business closures, some of which can last for many days. As a result, the economic impact increases.
While we will need to wait and see how Tampa was affected financially by Hurricane Hermine, experts indicate that the monetary impact of a Category 1 hurricane in the Tampa Bay area can range anywhere from $25 million to more than $1 billion.
Contact a West Central Florida Hurricane Damage Attorney
If you have questions about filing a hurricane damage claim, an experienced hurricane damage attorney in West Central Florida can help. Contact the Wells Law Group, P.A. for more information about how we can assist you.