It’s a hard truth, but the world is seeing a more substantial impact from natural disasters than ever before. And that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.
Between 1980 and 2017, a whopping 200 weather and climate-related natural disasters caused damage in the U.S. alone, costing more than $1.1 trillion dollars.
“The combination of climate change, population growth and urbanization has put an unprecedented number of people in the path of destructive weather events over the last 30 years,” Casey Williams recently noted in the Huffington Post. “Natural disasters now affect over 170 million people every year — up from 60 million just three decades ago.”
Instead of having knee-jerk reactions to such natural disasters, local governments and organizations across the globe are optimizing long-term emergency preparedness by tracking key data, coordinating strategy and training emergency personnel in how to react. Pulling such plans together can be a complex, lengthy and often costly process, but the frequency of natural disasters has made such plans vitally important.
If you’re among those trying to strategize plans for emergency preparedness, here are a few statistics about our country's most common natural disasters:
Hurricanes: Defined as a tropical cyclone with sustained winds of 74 mph or higher, hurricanes often combine effects of other natural disasters including storm surges, tornadoes and flooding. Until now, an average 1.75 hurricanes have stricken the U.S. annually, 88 percent of them in Florida or Texas. “As climate change makes oceans hotter there is more heat, more energy, available,” notes scientist Kevin Trenberth in Scientific American. “So there is likely to be an increase in hurricane activity. That can be the size of the storms, their duration and their intensity.”
Wildfires: These natural disasters have gotten worse in the U.S. due to increased development and urban growth that ultimately increases highly flammable decaying vegetable matter in forests. Between January and October of 2018, the U.S. logged 49,658 wildfires that burned some 8.1 million acres, threatening some 4.5 million homes. Related losses amounted to $5.1 billion over the past decade. Wooded areas remain most susceptible, with Texas, California, North Carolina and Georgia usually sustaining the most damage.
Floods: These remain the most common natural disasters in the U.S., comprising 40 percent of such incidents. Last year, the U.S. saw 136 fatalities related to flooding; in fact, flash floods are considered the leading cause of weather-related deaths in this country. The events cause some $6 billion worth of damage in the U.S. each year, with the aftermath often involving health concerns due to drinking water contamination.
Earthquakes: Unlike other natural disasters, these can strike completely without warning. Between 12,000 and 14,000 earthquakes happen in the U.S. each year, with major events (of a magnitude greater than level 7) occurring more than once a month, on average. A recent study placed annual costs at about $4.4 billion.
Contact SwiftReach for assistance with both your short-term and long-term emergency preparedness plans.