HURRICANE IRMA IS GONE, NOW WHAT? - Coastal Florida Real Estate


Hurricane Irma swept through Florida from south to north last week leaving a trail of exhausted homeowners, evacuees, storm debris and, no doubt, some decisions to move from Florida.

Hurricanes in Florida

Even though these storms are few and far between, hurricane season takes it’s toll on Florida residents.  This apprehension is fueled by stories of past destruction, the increase in coastal populations, the insurance industry and the local weather stations.  However, whether real or imagined, for some residents enough is enough!

Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne

In 2004, we experienced a freak of nature, two hurricanes passing over the same area just 3 weeks apart.  Frances, the first of the two storms, stalled over the Atlantic for three days and pummeled us with 100 mph winds and constant rain.  Even though the wind speed was not high (as hurricane winds go), there was a tremendous amount of damage for two reasons.

First, we had not had a hurricane strike this area for decades which meant the vegetation was overgrown.  Large trees which had been properly pruned were relatively immune from the wind but others, like tall pines, were not and I lost eight pine trees in my yard that year.  Newer communities like Abacoa did not see the damage since their trees were smaller.

In addition, the wind blew nearly steadily for three days so eventually trees and even large highway signs gave way to stress fractures and disintegrated.

Second, since it rained heavily for three days the ground eventually became so saturated that, coupled with the wind, many trees to simply fell over.  I watched as the largest pine in my yard slowly fell over during the course of a couple of hours.  Fortunately, it fell away from my house.

These storms were really unusual since we had not had a hurricane hit Palm Beach County since 1928.  Even though the media hype would lead you to believe otherwise, storms here are very rare.

The Result

What we did see however was a migration of people who finally said enough is enough.  Frances and Jeanne were followed by Wilma in 2005 and many people figured this was a good time to move away from Florida.

I remember hearing of many folks who moved to North Carolina to escape what seemed to be incessant hurricane assaults.

While it is true these storms area major pain, with proper planning their inconveniences only last a couple of days and even then only every couple of years at worst.  Compare that with being snowed in for months every year in locations up north.  Personally I would not like to shovel snow for months every year.

I suspect that once the damage is repaired we will see another migration to the north, but all things considered this is still a great place to live.  Anyone who can live in Jupiter, does!

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Richard Sites, Realtor