Report Ranks U.S. Counties By Natural Disaster Risk

Fulton and Dekalb counties in the Atlanta area; Shelby County in the Memphis, Tenn., area; Worcester County, Mass.; and Oklahoma County in the Oklahoma City area are among 51 counties in the U.S. deemed ‘very high risk’ for natural disasters, according to RealtyTrac's first-ever Natural Disaster Housing Risk Report, which includes a heat map showing the degree of risk in every county in the U.S.

As per the report, the 51 ‘very high risk’ counties are located in 14 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Tennessee.

These ‘very high risk’ counties account for 8% of the 131 million housing units in the U.S. The report draws on a mix of historical data to measure the risk of floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes in each area and then arrives at a risk score for each county.

As the report reveals, property values nationwide have increased about 11% in the past year – however, for the aggregate of the counties deemed ‘very high risk,’ property values have increased an average of only 9%, indicating that home values in these counties are likely being impacted by increased disaster risk.

‘While it is always important to take into account all benefits and risks of buying a home, housing markets are constantly fluctuating and can quickly bounce back after a natural disaster,’ says Sheldon Detrick, CEO of Prudential Detrick/Alliance Realty, covering the Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla., markets, in a statement. ‘Just one year after the most recent tornado devastated the southern part of Oklahoma City, we are starting to exceed pre-recession levels in all categories of the market.’

There are 20 counties deemed ‘very low risk.’ They are located in Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Among the counties deemed ‘very low risk’ are Hennepin, Ramsey, Dakota and Anoka, all in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area; Adams and Weld counties on the Colorado Front Range; Brown County, Wis., in the Green Bay area, and Outagamie County in Appleton, Wis.

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