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Question for the FL, GA and Carolina coast retirees
Old 03-12-2021, 10:20 PM   #1
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Question for the FL, GA and Carolina coast retirees

I have been giving serious thought to the coastal areas of the southeast because they offer two things that are very important to me: beaches and lots of tennis options. But I keep going back to hurricanes, terrible storms, and flooding. I am petrified of lightning, but I could install a lightning protection system for peace of mind. I can’t control hurricanes. And so much of the land in these areas is prone to flooding.

How worried are you about hurricanes where you live? Are hurricanes and/or flooding something you took into consideration before moving there? I’m trying to convince myself that hurricane risk isn’t all that bad but the articles I have read indicate otherwise.
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Old 03-12-2021, 10:37 PM   #2
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If you wish to live very near the coast, plan for hurricanes. I have lived on Texas Gulf Coast pretty near the water most of my life and have been through several (five) hurricanes. Lost power and water for extented periods (1-3 weeks) a couple times. Lost access to groceries / gas supplies too at times. We purposely bought a house built on high enough elevation and with good enough drainage to avoid flooding. Have boards we can install to cover the windows to help protect in high winds. Have insurance to address trees falling on the house or other water and wind damage. Have a generator for backup power. One needs a "bug out" plan in case of a high category hurricane coming your way. We will leave the area for any category 4 or 5 hurricane coming toward us. It's an unfortunate part of living here but we've gotten used to it. Nice thing about hurricanes is you normally have a lot of warning they are coming so you can just leave if you wish. To avoid the biggest risks in a hurricane, just don't live too near the water. Winds cause lots of damage but water is the really high risk to life and property. Living in hurricane prone areas isn't for everyone. I have several friends that moved away from this area once they retired to avoid dealing with hurricanes. Be aware that the impact of direct hits from large hurricanes takes years for an area to recover from.
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Old 03-13-2021, 03:50 AM   #3
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I've survived a few hurricanes. After the damage is done it is very difficult to find contractors to fix your damaged home. The insurance company will give you an estimate but the contractors will jack up the price if you want your home repaired. Many homes had blue tarps on their roofs for many months before their homes were fixed. The storm also displaced the snakes and gators which were near or on peoples property. If you are petrified of lightning that is nothing compared to riding out a hurricane hiding in your walk in closet waiting for the storm to pass. Many panic before a hurricane, line up to buy food, gasoline, Home Depot etc. Select food , bottle water and gasoline will eventually run out. There are residents that get into fights over this.
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Old 03-13-2021, 06:02 AM   #4
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We have regularly vacationed at Myrtle Beach with DW's family. We always rent and would fear buying because of hurricanes, and also the general salt damage.
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Old 03-13-2021, 06:29 AM   #5
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Thanks for the feedback; I had been thinking so much about the storms themselves that I didn’t consider the aftermath like how to fix the house once the hurricane rolls through. I don’t think I would want the hassle of waiting for weeks/months to get repairs done.

How far from the water is “safer” - where you’d still be in the hurricane but you might avoid the bulk of the water damage? 5 miles from shore? 50?

Given my fear of thunderstorms and concern about hurricanes, I don’t think the southeast coastal areas are right for me. Which is a shame since I love FL in the winter. I might have to consider renting in the winter like so many others do.
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Old 03-13-2021, 06:38 AM   #6
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I am petrified of lightning, but I could install a lightning protection system for peace of mind.
Surge protection protects electronics, some people also have lightning rods, but if you're truly "petrified" of lightning there are few places you can live. But in the south florida summer, you can count on a thunderstorm pretty regularly in the late afternoons.

Most parks around me have lightning detection/warning devices, I can hear one when it goes off from 2 miles away (it's super loud if you are actually near it in the park).

There are a bazillion threads on Florida, and the weather here, as you probably know.

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How far from the water is “safer”
Realtors will tell you some BS about this, but storms can cross the state, or come up the middle. You're safe from storm surge of course, but being inland doesn't insulate you from winds.
After Wilma, 2005, we had no issue getting our roof redone. Sure it was a few months, and we had a tarp covering patches like everyone around us. Since 1982 that's the only direct damage I've lived through in S. Fla. Hunkered down for plenty of other storms. Unlike tornadoes, forest fires, flash floods, we at least get a few days warning to prepare or leave. There is some weather risk no matter where you live in the US, you just get to pick your preference.
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Old 03-13-2021, 06:43 AM   #7
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Always have an evacuation plan, a place to go a few days before a hurricane hits. This is important to get out early since once an evac notice is issued the roadways can almost be impassable. Depending on where you are you may not have to go very far to be safe. If in middle or lower Florida you along with all of the others will have to traverse the few highways to get to a safe place, a long slow drive if you can't leave early enough.
Since you (should) be retired you can evac early.
Another good thing to have is a supply of bottled water and freeze dried foods plus a way to heat the water for the dried food. Take some with you when you evac.
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Old 03-13-2021, 07:08 AM   #8
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Nowhere is safe in FL. During the 3 major hurricanes in summer 2004, the call was a major one hitting Tampa and many flee to Orlando. The hurricane went up Interstate 4 and hit Kissimmee and Orlando. Many were without power for weeks.
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Old 03-13-2021, 07:12 AM   #9
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We live about 3 hours in from the NC coast - primarily because of hurricanes. You can’t control hurricanes, there’s no way to guarantee your home is protected and insurance is $$$$. Even if you have an evacuation plan and the funds to recover from a direct hit, there’s no getting around the disruption. Rebuilding could easily take a year as there aren’t enough contractors to handle an instant backlog of projects.

We love the east coast but consciously chose to live close but inland to avoid the brunt of hurricanes. We’re an easy drive to the ocean and the mountains, with a lower COL than an equivalent home on the east coast. Win-win as far as we’re concerned. In NC, the Triangle, the Triad and Charlotte are great options among other smaller cities and towns. I’d even argue there aren’t any cities in NC, SC, GA or northern FL with as much to offer as the larger inland metro areas. Not Virginia Beach, Wilmington, Charleston, Savannah or Jacksonville.
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Old 03-13-2021, 07:55 AM   #10
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How far from the water is “safer” - where you’d still be in the hurricane but you might avoid the bulk of the water damage? 5 miles from shore? 50?
It's not distance as much as property elevation. Flood zone maps are put out by FEMA that show the risk of flooding from hurricane surge waters. Maps can be found on the FEMA or county web sites. Living in the "500 yr flood plain" zones are generally safe with only a 0.2% probability of flooding in any given year. My house is in a 500 yr flood plain zone but it is quite close to the water. It is 4-6 blocks from water that eventually opens out into the Gulf of Mexico. The elevation of properties in the neighborhood range from ~8 ft above sea level to ~30'. My house is at 25 ft elevation and has never flooded. It should only see hurricane surge waters if a category 5 hurricane hits directly on Galveston. Even then it's unlikely we'd get anything but a couple inches of water in the house. Hurricane Ike was a Category 2 direct hit in 2008 and flooded (think "flooding" as 4-8 ft of water in homes) about 35 houses in the lower elevations of our neighborhood. Our home was in no danger of flooding from the rising flood surge waters.

However a different issue is that area drainage can be too slow to remove the rainfall before water gets in your home. In 2017 Hurricane Harvey (a Cat 4) dumped 50" of rain in just a few days around here. Water in parts of our yard got up to within 1" of the top of a small part of my home's foundation because the drainage ditches just couldn't carry the water away fast enough.
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Old 03-13-2021, 08:00 AM   #11
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Given my fear of thunderstorms and concern about hurricanes, I don’t think the southeast coastal areas are right for me. Which is a shame since I love FL in the winter. I might have to consider renting in the winter like so many others do.
"Snowbirding" is a great way to enjoy the warm winters on the south coast. If you want to rent year round, can always adopt a "rent and run" philosophy. Rent year round but run at the first sign of a hurricane! Good luck with whatever you decide. We stay here because we love the warm weather and have friends here. Gotten used to hurricanes, even have watched the "eye" of a hurricane pass over our heads two times so far. Quite a strange experience.
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Old 03-13-2021, 08:12 AM   #12
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I have lived in Florida since 1962 and have been through a number (I lost count) of hurricanes during that time. I have also experienced a few of the typhoons coming into Okinawa during 1955 - 1957. Boy are you in for an exciting experience.
Since you want to be on the coast (although anywhere in Florida is susceptible) you will encounter extreme winds, lightening, thunder, heavy heavy rain, flooding, and damage or possibly the loss of your house and car. If you bug out in time then you may not be able to go home for a while depending on the amount of damage to your area. There is no place safe from damage if the hurricane is large enough or strong enough as it passes through. Just google the damage of hurricanes in Florida over the past 20+ years. Then there is the challenge to find anyone or any building materials to fix your damage. You will need 3 kinds of insurance - home owners insurance, wind insurance, and flood insurance and a lot of patience.


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Old 03-13-2021, 08:17 AM   #13
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We're looking in NC for 3500+ elevation. DH is "moving south" as long as he can still have seasonal changes. I grew up in New Orleans and been through many hurricanes. Elevation is key. My parents house was the one house in their neighborhood that didn't have water damage after Katrina. Needless to say, he did very well selling his home a year later. 2025 can't come soon enough me!
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Old 03-13-2021, 08:18 AM   #14
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hurricanes and lightning? bah.

The thing to fret over in south Georgia and parts of Florida is gnats
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Old 03-13-2021, 08:25 AM   #15
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We're looking in NC for 3500+ elevation. DH is "moving south" as long as he can still have seasonal changes. I grew up in New Orleans and been through many hurricanes. Elevation is key. My parents house was the one house in their neighborhood that didn't have water damage after Katrina. Needless to say, he did very well selling his home a year later. 2025 can't come soon enough me!
So Boone, Asheville or thereabouts. You’ll definitely have full on seasonal changes, snow and all though less than northern states.
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Old 03-13-2021, 08:25 AM   #16
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I've always practiced according to the old saying, "run from the water, and hide from the wind". Also, in these days of relatively high accuracy weather information available 24/7 and at your fingertips, you are going to have at least a week of warning. It's not like the 1900's when you woke up to a fast moving cat. 5 hurricane, like the Great Galveston Hurricane (8,000+ dead).

So, don't live on/at the beach or a small island. Be far enough away that you are at least 50 feet elevation above sea level and not in any flood plain. And, invest in a house designed, built, and certified for hurricane force winds. Insure it if you can. Then, add your lightning protection and take care of drainage for hurricane force rains, which is not a small task. And, you'll be fine.

Or, live 100 miles inland and don't worry about most of these hurricane specific design requirements.
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Old 03-13-2021, 08:26 AM   #17
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hurricanes and lightning? bah.

The thing to fret over in south Georgia and parts of Florida is gnats
AKA “no-see-ems.”
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Old 03-13-2021, 08:36 AM   #18
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So Boone, Asheville or thereabouts. You’ll definitely have full on seasonal changes, snow and all though less than northern states.
We've been concentrating there. Really like Boone, Banner Elk. We drove across the mountains from TN last Feb. meandering our way to my brother-in-laws in Davidson. Subscribed to some FB groups and newsletters, learning more about that area. Beautiful part of our country.
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Old 03-13-2021, 09:07 AM   #19
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Yes, the biting gnats are the absolute worst! If you do move there get to know Avon Skin So Soft.
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Old 03-13-2021, 09:20 AM   #20
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If you choose to live along the Gulf Coast or Atlantic Coast as far as New England, you will always have a threat of hurricanes. Same way with tornadoes in the middle of the country.

If you cannot handle bad weather, just always be prepared to jump in your car and drive inland so far that they're not an issue.

As far as your fear of lightning, there's not much you can do to avoid it--other than move to a desert where it never rains.
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