Is Your City Vulnerable to a Hurricane's Wrath?

ByABC News via logo
September 8, 2005, 6:56 AM

Sept 8, 2005 — -- Up and down the coastlines of America, there are so many places that are just a hurricane away from catastrophe. But Americans just can't resist the lure of life on the water's edge.

"The United States, in my opinion, is more vulnerable to hurricanes today than ever before," said Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center. "As we continue to develop the coastline, we are putting more and more people in harm's way."

Mayfield said while New Orleans has always been considered the city most vulnerable to hurricanes, he worries about four other places.

At the top of his list is the Florida Keys, a chain of islands that is home to 80,000 people connected by a thin ribbon of road and more than 40 bridges. Remember those bridges in Louisiana that Katrina washed away?

Next on the list is Tampa Bay. One of the fastest-growing communities in the country, it lies just feet above the Gulf of Mexico -- and the building goes on.

Further west is Galveston, Texas, site of the most deadly hurricane in U.S. history so far. In 1900, at least 8,000 people died. The island sits higher today, but is still exposed.

Long Island in New York State is fourth on the list. The Great Hurricane of 1938 swamped Long Island. Today, there are a lot more people and it would be very difficult to evacuate them.

Florida has learned its lesson, and now has the toughest building codes in the country.