As rain and flooding continue to threaten the East Coast even after Hurricane Florence was downgraded to a tropical depression over the weekend, some real estate companies and practitioners have been livestreaming the event on social media so evacuees can keep an eye on their community and properties. Twiddy & Company, REALTORS®, in Kitty Hawk, N.C., is broadcasting the storm—whose remnants are now affecting six states and expected to intensify Tuesday—from an oceanfront webcam. And Janet Loper, broker-owner of NextGen Real Estate in Lexington, S.C., posted a livestream to her Facebook page of the hurricane reaching Myrtle Beach.
Florence has brought record-breaking rainfall and dangerous flash floods to the Carolinas and knocked out power to thousands of residents. Meteorologists warn the storm will bring more destruction over the coming days. As the extent of property damage becomes clearer, there could be a widespread ripple affect to communities in the area. Realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale told The Real Deal that the damage from the hurricane likely will disrupt national home sales and construction “for months to come.” For the areas impacted, she predicts a “drop-off in demand post-hurricane as would-be buyers re-evaluate whether to live in these areas.” Real estate data firm CoreLogic predicts that a quarter of a million homes in North Carolina have been impacted by Florence.
Making the situation worse, a significant number of homeowners in coastal and inland towns in affected areas are underinsured and lack adequate protection against flooding, USA Today reports. About 10 percent to 20 percent of coastal homeowners in the eastern part of North Carolina have coverage through the federal National Flood Insurance Program. Further, only 1 percent to 3 percent of homes in inland counties are covered by flood policies, according to John Rollins of actuarial firm Milliman. In total, about 3 percent of homeowners have flood insurance in North Carolina, as well as 8 percent in South Carolina, Rollins told USA Today. “Obviously, that leaves a lot of people uninsured,” he says, adding that many people don’t realize a standard homeowners insurance policy does not cover flood damage.
The estimated loss for a 1,000-square-foot, single-story home containing $20,000 in possessions and flooded with one inch of water can run up to $11,000, according to FEMA data. The estimated loss for such a home flooded with five inches of water increases to more than $18,000. “You are looking at a lot of homeowners who will have out-of-pocket costs that could easily be five figures—or more than $10,000,” says Cathy Seifert, an insurance analyst at research firm CFRA.
Homeowners not covered for flood damage can seek federal disaster assistance through grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or apply for a loan from the Small Business Administration, says Steve Bowen, a meteorologist for Aon Benfield’s Impact Forecasting division.