Meet the American cities that are the safest from natural disasters.

Syracuse, New York

After several years of relative calm, suddenly we’ve faced some pretty significant natural disasters in North America – from the hurricanes that have devastated Houston and other cities in Texas, Louisiana and Florida to earthquakes in the vicinity of Mexico City.

Certainly, when it comes to hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, floods and fires, some cities are more prone to these natural disasters than others.

Acting on that hunch, Trulia, the online real estate service company, has analyzed federal disaster area data to prepare maps that show the U.S. regions and the metropolitan areas within in them that are most susceptible to suffering a catastrophic event of this kind.

As it turns out, most metropolitan areas are at a high risk for at least one of the potential natural disasters – although thankfully none are at a high risk for absolutely everything.

The Trulia maps show these broad contours:

  • California and other western regions are at a higher risk for earthquakes and wildfires.
  • Hurricane risks are highest in Florida and along the Gulf Coast.
  • Flooding risks factor into the Florida/Gulf Coast regions as well, but they also stretch up and down the Eastern Seaboard.
  • Tornado risks are highest in the Plains states, portions of the Great Lakes states, plus the Central-South region of the country.

What does the Trulia analysis tell us about the large urban areas that are “safest” from all of these natural disaster risks? Trulia finds them in places like Ohio (Cleveland, Akron and Dayton), in Upstate New York (Buffalo, Syracuse) and other parts of the Midwest and inland Northeast.

Looking at the various housing markets across the United States, here’s Trulia’s list of the ones that are, on balance, the “safest” from natural disasters:

  • #1. Syracuse, NY
  • #2.  Cleveland, OH
  • #3. Akron, OH
  • #4. Buffalo, NY
  • #5. Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, MD
  • #6. Dayton, OH
  • #7. Allentown, PA
  • #8. Chicago, IL
  • #9. Denver, CO
  • #10. Troy-Warren, MI

Of course, being safest from natural disasters doesn’t account for the dangers from “man-made disasters”  — as former Director of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano euphemistically labeled the other kinds of catastrophic events.

For the riskier places viewed from that standpoint, one might look to the most “iconic” metro areas such as Washington, DC, New York City and Boston as the likelier targets.

Plus, with North Korean nuclear weapons development and saber-rattling being prominent in the news of late, Honolulu, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, OR might also make it on that list.

Speaking for myself, as a resident of the region just 50 miles east of Washington, DC and in light of our prevailing west-to-east wind and weather patterns, the possibility of encountering radioactive fallout from a nuclear strike aimed at our nation’s capital has always been a really fun scenario to consider …

Saints and Sinners: The Ten Most Sinful Cities in the United States … and the most Saintly

deWhich cities in America are the “most sinful” of the bunch? Perhaps they’re the ones whose monikers or mottos seem to suggest as much:

  • Always turned on.
  • Big beach. Big fun.
  • The city that never sleeps.
  • Glitter Gulch
  • Live large. Think big.
  • More than you ever dreamed.
  • Sin City
  • Sleaze City
  • Tinseltown
  • Town on the make.
  • What happens here, stays here.
  • What we dream, we do.
  • The wickedest little city in America.

While some of the descriptions above hardly represent what city boosters would want to convey about their burgs, a surprising number of them are actually the end-result of formal marketing and branding efforts – focus-group tested and all.

[How many cities do you think you can name for these slogans?]

tr logoBut put all of that aside now … because the online residential real estate website Trulia has been busy doing its own analysis of which cities qualify as being among the nation’s most “sinful.” Earlier this month, it published its listing of the ten most “sinful cities” in the United States.

How did Trulia compile the list? For starters, it limited its research to the 150 largest metropolitan areas.

Next, it used a variety of data such as drinking habits, the number of adult entertainment venues and the number of gambling establishments to determine the cities where it’s easiest to succumb to the eight deadly sins – among them gluttony, greed, lust, sloth and vanity.

For each “offense,” Trulia examined statistical measures that serve as key clues – stats like how many adult entertainment venues there are (for lust), and exercise statistics (for sloth).

Obviously, a mega-city like New York or Los Angeles is going to offer many more outlets catering to the sinful nature of mankind compared to smaller urban centers. So Tulia has “common-sized” the data based on per capita population, making it possible to determine the destination in which it’s easiest to satisfy one’s whims (or vices).

So – drumroll please – here’s the resulting Trulia Top Ten, listed below beginning with #10 and moving up to the ignominious honor of being the most sinful city of the bunch:

  • #10 Columbus, OH
  • #9   San Antonio, TX
  • #8   Las Vegas, NV
  • #7   Shreveport, LA
  • #6   Louisville, KY
  • #5   Toledo, OH
  • #4   Tampa, FL
  • #3   Philadelphia, PA
  • #2   Atlantic City, NJ
  • #1   New Orleans, LA  

I suppose few people would quarrel with New Orleans coming in at #1 on the list; anyone who has spent any time in that city knows must know how much of an “anything goes” atmosphere exists there. (Few tourists seem to avert their eyes to what they see, either.)

Atlantic City? Las Vegas?  Pretty much the same thing.

But what about Louisville, or Toledo, or … Shreveport?? OMG!

Of course, the same statistics Trulia crunched to determine who sits atop the “Sin City” list also reveal which cities are their polar opposites – the places Trulia calls America’s “saintly sanctuaries.”

Which cities are those?  Here’s that list:

  • #10 Cambridge, MA
  • #9   Greeley, CO
  • #8   Asheville, NC
  • #7   Boise, ID
  • #6   Claremont-Lebanon, NH
  • #5   Raleigh, NC
  • #4   Tuscaloosa, AL
  • #3   Ft. Collins, CO
  • #2   Ogden, UT
  • #1   Provo, UT

I think fewer surprises are on this list.

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For details on the Trulia analysis and to read more about the methodology employed, click here.

What’s your take? Based on your own personal observations or even first-hand experience, which cities would you characterize as the most “sinful” … and the most “saintly”?  We’re all interested to know!