25 Billion-Dollar Disasters in U.S. in Two Years

Thursday, May 02, 2013
Rockaways neighborhood, N.Y., post-Sandy (photo: Kathy Willens, AP)

Extreme weather has really taken its toll on the United States in recent years, with more than two dozen natural disasters that each cost $1 billion or more.


During 2011 and 2012, 25 billion-dollar floods, storms, droughts, heat waves and wildfires were unleashed in the U.S., killing 1,107 individuals and causing $188 billion in economic damages.


Superstorm Sandy alone killed 72 and wreaked nearly $50 billion in destruction. The federal government pitched in more than $60 billion in disaster relief and recovery funds.


The Center for American Progress calculated that the federal government spent $136 billion on disaster relief between 2011 and 2013, which amounts to about $400 per year for each U.S. household. Of the total, $55.4 billion came from the Department of Homeland Security and $36.4 billion from the Department of Agriculture.


The center noted that warming air and water temperatures due to climate change have increased the severity and frequency of extreme weather events. The group cited information compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which showed the U.S. experienced the second-highest amount of extreme weather on record in 2012. They recommended that the government spend more money on helping communities prepare for disasters or, in governmentese, “pre-disaster mitigation,” spending for which has actually declined over the past decade.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky


To Learn More:

Disastrous Spending: Federal Disaster-Relief Expenditures Rise amid More Extreme Weather (by Daniel J. Weiss and Jackie Weidman, Center for American Progress)

5 California House Republicans Voted to Help Victims of Katrina, but Not Sandy (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)     

As Hurricane Sandy Hits East Coast, Romney and Ryan Reiterate Their Aim to Privatize FEMA (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)     

Obama Asks $59 Billion in Extra Spending for Disaster Relief, Haiti, Agent Orange Disabilities and…War (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)         


anonymouse 5 years ago
"The center noted that warming air and water temperatures due to climate change have increased the severity and frequency of extreme weather events." The center apparently is relying on old information. Or perhaps it's just being disingenuous. The "consensus" of scientists has for several years been shifting to the notion that global warming (the latest mini-cycle which began in 1970 following a 30-year cooling cycle)has ended for now. Solar activity seems to be decreasing, and global temps will decrease with it. Furthermore, the center is wrong to conflate disaster relief claims with storm severity: since 2005, hurricane activity has decreased sharply. So have tornado events in the US. "Superstorm" Sandy, for example, was neither super nor at landfall even a storm (in the meteorological sense), although the damage inflicted (self-inflicted, really) certainly belies the idea that only a major hurricane could take out NYC. Great planning, NYC! What the damage claims indicate is that asset inflation and insurance fraud are alive and well in the good old USA. Anyone personally familiar with the nature of disaster relief after a major storm (I'm thinking of Hurricanes Andrew and Hugo)has seen how folks exploit the system's vulnerability in a major crisis in order to line their pockets. Insurance companies pay these claims without investigation because: 1) they haven't the resources to do so; 2) they are being leaned on by state regulators to expedite payouts; 3) they know that a big payout will justify to state regulators big, lasting premium increases in the future.

Leave a comment