Yearly economic damages of hurricanes: $10 billion

Reporter: Juan Carlos

There's no question, we've had a lot more damage from hurricanes over the last few years. But a new study says it's not because of more hurricanes. In fact, forecasters don't necessarily blame the weather at all.

The study estimated the economic damages of hurricanes. The impact is astounding. According to weather experts, while we have been in a different cycle, in the long-run, hurricanes haven't been happening more often nor been more powerful. The reason for more damage, they say, is more people living along the coast.

Who can forget 2004? Mother Nature unleashed her fury with three major hurricanes impacting South Florida. It turned out to be deadliest and costliest Atlantic hurricane season on record.

But a team of scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say it wasn't the obvious that caused such a huge economic impact. "Our calculations suggest the damages of hurricanes are doubling every 10 to 15 years, not because hurricanes are changing - because there are - so many more people moving to coastal areas."

They are blaming people and people who choose to buy or build along our coastlines with palatial houses or luxurious condos.

NOAA goes on to say nothing indicates global warming has caused the significant increase in destruction. Everything points to the growing concentration of people living on the coast or barrier islands.

Realtor Norma Mirsky says destruction thanks to hurricanes have not turned off people from living in what can be a treacherous paradise. "It has not affected the sales particularly in the ocean front property sales. They've been very progressive lately."

On the streets, there was mixed reaction about a study that some say is way off base. "Everything is in cycles. In another 10 years, it will be different," says Doris Hawkins.

Reporter asks :So, you don't buy it?"

Hawkins: "No, just the world's cycle."

Jack Ruehl agrees with the study. "The more people there are, the more damage."

Reporter asks: "To you, it makes sense?"

Ruehl: "It makes sense."

The team says the current potential damage from hurricanes in a yearly basis is $10 billion. How to bring the numbers down: Even tougher building codes along the coast and possibly limiting growth. The latter - most likely not happening.