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Disasters can happen at any time and anywhere. But some places experience more than their fair share of floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms and severe weather -- so much so that certain locales earn frightening nicknames such as Tornado Alley. That moniker applied to Moore, Okla., long before the latest deadly twister struck May 20, killing 24 people. Four tornadoes have hit the town since 1998.
Where do these damaging events occur most frequently and severely? Kiplinger.com worked with the Property Claim Services unit of Verisk Analytics, a leading source of insurance risk information, to identify the ten states that have suffered the biggest property losses from disasters over the past decade. (Oklahoma, by the way, isn't as high on this list as you might imagine.) If a disaster is likely to strike where you live, make sure you have enough insurance coverage to protect your finances.
Yahoo! Homes is publishing the top five states most at risk of disaster. To see the rest of the top 10, go to Kiplinger's website.
5. New York
Types of Disasters (2003-12): 1 utility loss, 2 tropical storms, 6 hurricanes, 17 winter storms and 29 severe weather incidents
Estimated Insured Property Loss: $13.3 billion
Damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 propelled New York into this top-ten list. The state was among the hardest hit by Sandy, which was the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history after Hurricane Katrina. New York City experienced flooding and widespread power outages as a result of the hurricane.
Types of Disasters (2003-12): 1 winter storm, 2 tropical storms, 7 hurricanes and 26 severe weather incidents
Estimated Insured Property Loss: $14.9 billion
The Magnolia State took a pounding from Hurricane Katrina, with the storm surge and heavy rains causing extensive flooding. Many unfortunate homeowners discovered insurance doesn't cover flood damage -- you have to buy a separate policy.
Types of Disasters (2003-12): 1 wildland fire, 1 tropical storm, 4 hurricanes, 7 winter storms and 60 severe weather incidents
Estimated Insured Property Loss: $26.7 billion
Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are as common as tumbleweed in the Lone Star State. Cities close to the southern coast, such as Galveston and Houston, are often in the bulls-eye of destructive hurricanes that gain strength over the Gulf of Mexico, such as Hurricane Ike in 2008.
Types of Disasters (2003-12): 3 tropical storms, 8 hurricanes and 12 severe weather incidents
Estimated Insured Property Loss: $31.6 billion
Like Louisiana, Florida gets battered by hurricanes and tropical storms in late summer and early fall. The Sunshine State suffered through four major hurricanes (a record) in both 2004 and 2005. It also has the highest number of tornadoes per square mile of any state (Texas has more tornadoes annually, but it is much larger in land area), and central Florida is known as the lightning capital of the U.S.
Types of Disasters (2003-2012): 2 tropical storms, 7 hurricanes and 20 severe weather incidents
Estimated Insured Property Loss: $32.4 billion
The Pelican State has the unfortunate distinction of being the most disaster-prone state in the nation, largely because of Hurricane Katrina, which was the costliest disaster in U.S. history. Many of Katrina's victims discovered they didn't have enough insurance to cover the damage from the August 2005 hurricane. Make sure you have enough coverage before storm season strikes.
To see all 10 of the states most at risk of disaster, go to Kiplinger's website.
*Source: Property Claim Services unit of Verisk Analytics