When Hurricane Arthur hit North Carolina on July 3, structures on the coast and barrier islands were battered by heavy rainfall and strong winds. Tens of thousands were temporarily left without power and events over the holiday weekend were disrupted, but overall the storm continued this season's trend of a relatively mild season. This pattern aligns with what meteorologists have been predicting.
However, there have been some reports of residential properties sustaining damage from Arthur. Jesse Wray, a retired firefighter living in North Carolina's Outer Banks, told the Associated Press that he was "surprised that it got this bad. There's all kind of debris floating around here. I know a lot of people who lost their houses."
He explained that many houses built on the ground were vulnerable to water damage from the storm, which raised the water level significantly on the outlying island chain. However, nine-foot pilings kept Wray's house dry and safe. Access to some of the islands in the Outer Banks was briefly disrupted due to damage to North Carolina Highway 12, complicating the recovery process.
Nonetheless, after the storm receded, Governor McCrory urged residents and vacationers to come back out and enjoy the holiday. At a press conference, he told the media that "beaches are open for business and they're open for tourists. The umbrellas are going up as we speak right now."
However, he recognized the lingering threat from Arthur at the time, and reminded the public that they will need to exercise discretion throughout the summer. "We are thankful that our visitors and citizens were kept safe during this storm, and I urge continued caution to beachgoers," McCrory said.
The governor is right about the ongoing need to be prepared for severe weather. The Atlantic hurricane season runs through the end of November and storm activity tends to intensify sharply in August in September, which means we could still see more robust storm development later in 2014. The NOAA's Hurricane Research Division offers a more detailed discussion of the Atlantic hurricane season's typical pattern.
Even less severe storms can still cause extensive property damage as a result of flooding. Furthermore, structures in outlying communities face a growing risk from wildfires as a result of an ongoing drought in many states. This risk is expected to remain elevated throughout the summer, leaving states scrambling to bulk up their firefighting capacity. To be prepared for whatever is coming next, insurance carriers need a single valuation system that allows them to keep replacement cost estimates up to date for residential properties of any type or size.