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Ocean County Ranks Third in U.S. for Economic Flood Risk: Study

Flooding in the Normandy Beach neighborhood, Jan. 2021. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Flooding in the Normandy Beach neighborhood, Jan. 2021. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Four out of the five most flood-prone counties in the United States are located in New Jersey – including Ocean County – a study by LawnStarter, an industry publication that studies landscaping and outdoor architecture.

Ocean County ranked third in the nation for economic flood risk according to the authors’ data, following Harris County, Tx. and Bergen County, N.J. The remaining two of the top five counties for flood risk were also location at the Jersey Shore – Atlantic County and Cape May County, respectively. Monmouth County ranked 20th on the same list.

While many counties on the list (the full list is published below) saw their primary drivers of flooding to be riverine in nature, most were coastal counties in New Jersey and Florida, representing not only the flood risk itself, but the economic impact that flooding brings when it occurs.

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The study’s authors compared over 940 counties with a relatively moderate to very high flood risk according to FEMA. They considered each county’s risk and expected annual loss from riverine and coastal flooding, and also looked at the share of populations of children, elderly, and residents in mobile homes, in addition to local demand for flood insurance.

While Ocean County was not considered to have a high vulnerable population – defined as a high number of mobile homes, senior citizens who live in flood zones and children under five who live in flood zones –its high property values and sheer number of flood zones contributed to its high ranking. Areas such as Ocean County, where saltwater flooding is most common, are particularly at risk of seeing flood issues snowball over time.

“Subsidence and rising sea levels are poisoning trees with saltwater — accelerating tree loss and creating ghost forests along the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts, and in Alaska,” said LawnStarter Editor-in-Chief Jeff Herman.

According to the study:

Overall Score: 57.67
Riverine Flooding Risk Score: 98.09 | Rank: 61
Coastal Flooding Risk Score: 99.6 | Rank: 3
Expected Annual Loss from Riverine Flooding: $22 million | Rank: 37
Expected Annual Loss from Coastal Flooding: $100.5 million | Rank: 2
Average Monthly Google Searches for Terms Related to Flood Insurance: 50 | Rank: 57

Recently, a group of mayors in northern and central Ocean County joined together to form a consortium that is intended to develop ideas to counter the impact of flooding – especially "sunny day floods" that occur at times when no storms are present – and propose shared services agreements that may be attractive to state programs aimed at mitigating flood risk and the effects of climate change. Brick is among the municipalities that formed the consortium.


The full list of counties appears below:

1 Harris County, TX TX 63.87 56 2 1 744
2 Bergen County, NJ NJ 60.98 7 1 333 876
3 Ocean County, NJ NJ 57.67 1 3 339 212
4 Atlantic County, NJ NJ 53.58 2 5 352 672
5 Cape May County, NJ NJ 52.43 11 6 358 430
6 Cameron County, TX TX 51.74 3 20 206 348
7 Volusia County, FL FL 50.38 32 98 10 432
8 Miami-Dade County, FL FL 50.29 50 16 2 848
9 St. Johns County, FL FL 50.24 22 57 15 683
10 Brevard County, FL FL 50.12 35 72 10 512

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