Long Island ranks among most hurricane vulnerable areas

Kenny Guido

Staff member
Dec 30, 2000
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Long Island ranks among most hurricane vulnerable areas


September 29, 2006, 9:24 AM EDT

While New Orleans is still considered the most vulnerable area in the nation if a hurricane should hit, Long Island is not immune to the wrath of a major storm.

Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, director of the International Hurricane Research Center, has released the Top 10 List that nobody wants to be on -- "10 Most Vulnerable US Mainland Areas to Hurricanes" -- and Long Island's East End was ranked number eight on the list.

To nobody's surprise, "The Big Easy" tops the list with the protective levees of this below-sea level city being in little better shape than when Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 percent of New Orleans last year.

Florida dominates the list with four out of the ten most vulnerable areas, with its long shoreline that includes both the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.

The only other area that is protected from flooding by levees (e.g., the 140-mile long Hoover Dike) is adjacent to Lake Okeechobee, Florida, where the second worst hurricane disaster for life loss in US history occurred in 1928.

Twelve criteria were used to evaluate the vulnerability of US mainland areas to hurricanes. Cyclonic energy (hurricane frequency and storm intensity) and levee/dike failure were primary determinants of vulnerability. Physical factors included storm surge and freshwater flooding potential as well as coastal erosion trends and island breaching history. Socioeconomic indicators involved populations at risk, evacuation distance and routes, what's at risk, and local/state capabilities to respond to major hurricane impacts.

The Florida Keys ranked number three on the list, coastal Mississippi was four, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, was five, Galveston/Houston, Texas -- six, Cap Hatteras, North Carolina -- seven, the eastern Long Island, Wilmington North Carolina, and lastly, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida.