Annual Toll of Weather Disasters

From the Congressional Budget Office:  Hurricanes and Storm Flooding Taking a $54 Billion Annual Toll

The Congressional Budget Office warned in a new report that the cost inflicted by hurricanes and storm-related flooding is expected to hit $54 billion a year, equivalent to 0.3 percent of the nation’s current gross domestic product.

That total consists of $34 billion in expected annual economic losses to the residential sector, $9 billion to commercial businesses, and $12 billion to the public sector.

CBO estimates that a combination of private insurance coverage for wind damage, federal flood insurance, and federal disaster assistance would cover roughly 50 percent of losses to the residential sector and 40 percent of losses to the commercial sector.

Disaster Fund Spending Explodes in Recent Years

From the Wash. Post: Taxpayer spending on U.S. disaster fund explodes amid climate change, population trends.  The charts in this article are quite compelling.

As global temperatures rise, the federal government has faced far more billion-dollar disasters — those causing at least $1 billion in damages. From 1980 through 2018, the U.S. government faced, on average, only six such in a given year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

But of the most recent five years on record — from 2014 to 2018 — the United States has seen an average of 13 billion-dollar disasters every year.

Three of the past six years have seen the highest federal spending on disaster relief on record, according to federal data.

Secondary Perils Are An Increasing Threat

From Homeland Security News, this article about a new Swiss Re report: Environmental “secondary perils” an increasing threat

The catastrophe loss experience of the last two years is a wake-up call for the insurance industry, highlighting a trend of growing devastation wreaked by so-called ‘secondary perils’ – which are independent small to mid-sized events, or secondary effects of a primary disaster.

Gift for Donation

The Diva will send a gift to the next 4 people who make a donation to this blog.  It is a credit card size plastic card with a flash drive embedded. Produced by FEMA’s Building Science program, the USB contains a wealth of documents dealing with all hazards. It’s like having a book shelf of documents, but you can keep it in your wallet or briefcase.

Local Government Leadership in Disaster Response

The Diva recommends this new report for its practical advice from experienced local officials. See: City Managers and Elected Officials Play a Key Role in Disaster Response. The city/county managers should play a huge role in facilitating relationships and responsibilities and help elected officials understand that they should be included in preparation and training.

In a report published by the International City/County Management Association, Ron Carlee examines — through interviews and his extensive experience — the roles that local managers and elected officials play before, during and after a disaster, and shares best practices.

Direct link to the 64 page report.

Serious Concerns about “Acting” Senior Federal Officials

Given the many vacancies at the top of the Dept. of Homeland Security presently, it is important to consider the points made in this article. From the Guardian: Donald Trump’s liking for ‘acting’ senior officials alarms experts and allies 

Experts said the lack of permanent appointments, especially among cabinet officials, leaves key government functions without a clear mandate and more vulnerable to outsize influence from the president.

“The impact of this lack of policy influence means, in practical terms, that policy decisions are devoid of a critical ingredient – whether career officials believe that an issue can be implemented in a particular manner,” said Joel Rubin, who served in Barack Obama’s administration as a deputy assistant secretary of state and is now the president of Washington Strategy Group.

“The result is that the policy leaders’ decisions on that issue are doomed to fail for lack of thorough vetting.”

Financial Health Post Disaster

New Report from the Urban Institute: Insult to Injury: Natural Disasters and Residents’ Financial Health (81 pp). 

Many families live on the financial edge, but a natural disaster can throw even better-situated families into financial turmoil. A natural disaster can lead to increased debt and delinquencies—increasing financial stress in the near term, but also longer-term declines in financial health. This study builds evidence on how natural disasters impact residents’ financial health. Our analyses compare the financial outcomes of residents in areas hit by natural disasters to otherwise similar people in communities not affected by natural disasters.