States that could prevent the most losses
While FEMA analyzed 18.2 million buildings constructed in 2000 or later across the U.S, only buildings with sufficient data were included in its model. In total, 12.4 million buildings were included in the three disaster models. Because the number of buildings included in the model varied by state, we also looked at the potential losses avoided per analyzed building.
Overall, Wisconsin could prevent the most losses on a per-building basis. By adopting modern building codes, properties in Wisconsin could prevent $403,486 in potential disaster-related losses per year — that’s $2,416 per building. However, the potential savings may be much higher. Although FEMA includes just 167 Wisconsin buildings in its model, Wisconsin has 42,023 buildings constructed in 2000 or later.
Notably, FEMA classifies two Wisconsin counties as high-hazard, high-growth areas, meaning areas that have a large number of post-2000 buildings exposed to significant hazards. In those high-hazard, high-growth counties in Wisconsin, Dane has over 9,000 post-2000 buildings, while Kenosha has over 8,600.
Wisconsin’s potential losses consist entirely of potential flood damages. In total, 368,670 properties in Wisconsin have a chance of being severely affected by flooding over the next 30 years, according to the First Street Foundation’s Risk Factor, largely from heavy rains. This represents 3% of all properties in Wisconsin.
States that could prevent the most annual losses per building by adopting modern codes
|8||North Dakota||1,426||$1.4 million||$987|
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Indiana ranks second, with more than $16.3 million in potential losses avoided each year — $1,704 per building. Meanwhile, Arizona — ranking third — could avoid over $17.5 million in potential yearly losses. That comes out to $1,543 per building.
Both states’ potential losses consist entirely of flood damages. Indiana’s flood risk may seem apparent — the Midwestern state has experienced several destructive floods in the past, with many occurring because the state sits on the Ohio Basin, which puts the surrounding communities at risk of river flooding. But although Arizona likely isn’t a state that comes to mind when one thinks of flooding, its flood risks stem from a staple feature of desert climates: monsoon season. During Arizona’s monsoon season, which runs from June 15 to Sept. 30, storms and flooding can hit quickly, causing conditions to change rapidly.
By disaster type, these states could prevent the most losses
Properties in the District of Columbia could prevent nearly $2,500 in flooding losses per building — that’s the most of any state affected by flooding. Its location (the nation’s capital is positioned between the Potomac and Anacostia rivers) and flatter elevation make it highly susceptible to flooding.
Of the 23 states included in wind damage models, Florida could prevent the most wind losses at $514 per building — this is due primarily to its risk of hurricanes. (Another ValuePenguin study on severe weather damages found that hurricanes were the leading cause of weather-related damages in the state, causing $4.8 billion in property damages over the past five years.)
States that could prevent the most annual losses per building by adopting modern hurricane wind codes
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Meanwhile, of the six states included in earthquake damage models, Hawaii could prevent the most seismic losses at $56 per building. Volcanoes are largely to blame for Hawaii’s earthquake activity, and of the thousands of earthquakes Hawaii experiences yearly, the majority occur on and around the Island of Hawaii. The southern districts of the island, where three of the state’s most active volcanoes are located, are the most impacted by earthquakes.
Following Hawaii, the states that could prevent the most seismic damage include:
- California: $31 per building
- Washington state: $21 per building
- Utah: $13 per building
- Oregon: $5 per building
- Alaska: $4 per building
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