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Idea of the Day: More Extreme Weather Is Costing the Government More in Disaster Relief

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Superstorm Sandy devastated New Jersey, New York, and other areas along the eastern seaboard six months ago on October 29, 2012. It took at least 72 lives in the United States and caused nearly $50 billion in damages. Congress eventually provided $60 billion in disaster relief and recovery aid after weeks of deliberating and partisan bickering. These recovery efforts continue to this day.

Sandy was the worst natural disaster in the United States in terms of destruction and deaths since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, but it wasn’t the only one. In 2011 and 2012 alone, the United States experienced 25 floods, storms, droughts, heat waves, and wildfires that each caused at least $1 billion in damages. Combined, these extreme weather events were responsible for 1,107 fatalities and up to $188 billion in economic damages.

The Center for American Progress conducted an analysis and found that the federal government—which means taxpayers—spent $136 billion total from fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2013 on disaster relief. This adds up to an average of nearly $400 per household per year.

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This is part of a regular column: Idea of the Day

For more from the same column, click here