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Why Hurricane Irma Could Hurt, a Lot: increase in coastal development leaves much in harm’s way

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By BRAD PLUMER Read full NYTimes article here SEPT. 7, 2017

….Central and South Florida have grown at a breathtaking pace since 1990, adding more than 6 million people. Glittering high-rises and condominiums keep sprouting up along Miami Beach and other coastal areas. A lot more valuable property now sits in harm’s way….

…But half of the expected rise in hurricane costs is the result of expected increases in coastal development. Today, according to the C.B.O., roughly 1.2 million Americans live in coastal areas at risk of “substantial damage” from hurricanes — defined as damage of at least 5 percent of average income. By 2075, that number is forecast to rise to 10 million.

Population growth can also increase hurricane risks by adding newcomers who are unfamiliar with big storms or by clogging roads during evacuations, experts said.

….As of Wednesday, forecasters were still unsure where Irma might make landfall in Florida or how strong it will be when it does. But in almost any conceivable scenario, a hurricane today is likely to do more damage than a comparable storm in the past, if only because of increased development….

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