Washington, D.C. — As the five-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy approaches, a new analysis from the Center for American Progress finds that the most destructive hurricanes, storms, and other severe weather in the United States have caused about $675 billion in total damages since 2011. That massive figure works out to about $2,000 for every American.
Overall, there have been 84 extreme weather events during the last seven years that have caused a minimum of $1 billion in damage each and killed nearly 2,000 Americans in total. U.S. counties have issued more than 13,000 major disaster declarations in response to these events. These numbers are another sign of the impact of climate change, which causes these extreme weather events to be more severe and occur more frequently, the report says.
The report also notes that extreme storm events—including hurricanes, winter storms, and floods that have led to disaster declarations—on average tend to affect counties where the median income is below the national median. That means that severe weather amplified by climate change tends to most severely harm families who live paycheck to paycheck and who are least able to prepare for and recover from these disasters.
Among the findings from the report:
- On average, extreme storms and floods led to disaster declarations in counties with median incomes about 1.2 percent lower than the national median.
- On average, severe winter weather led to disaster declarations in counties with median incomes about 3.6 percent below the national median.
- Hurricanes and tropical storms appear at first to be an exception. These events led to disaster declarations in counties with median incomes on average 8 percent higher than the national median. But the report considers Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene in 2011 to be outliers, since they hit areas not usually subject to tropical cyclones. Without the two outliers, hurricanes and tropical storms from 2011 to present affected counties with median incomes 8.7 percent lower than the national median.
Read the report: “Extreme Weather, Extreme Costs: How Our Changing Climate Wallops Americans’ Wallets” by Kristina Costa, Miranda Peterson, and Howard Marano
For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Sam Hananel at email@example.com or 202.478.6327.