Weather Trends Will be Costly for Emergency Managers

Damaging, costly extreme-weather winters are becoming more common in U.S.

The simultaneous occurrence of warm winters in the West and cold winters in the East has significantly increased in recent decades. The damaging and costly phenomenon is very likely attributable to human-caused climate change, according to a new study. In the past three years alone the combination of heat-related drought in the West and Arctic conditions in the East have pinched the national economy, costing several billion dollars in insured losses, government aid and lost productivity. When such weather extremes occur at the same time, they threaten to stretch emergency responders’ disaster assistance abilities, strain resources such as interregional transportation, and burden taxpayer-funded disaster relief.

Extreme Weather Events Have Had Huge Cost

Extreme Weather Disasters Have Cost U.S. Taxpayers Tens of Billions Since 2015.

NOTE: Be sure to download the full report if you want to see the useful data, of events by type and by state, provided.

 A new analysis done by the Center for American Progress shows that extreme weather events—which will become more frequent and severe with climate change—have cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars. Between 2005 and 2015, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, provided more than $67 billion to individuals and local governments in response to declared emergencies and major disasters. Communities in Louisiana, New York, Mississippi, New Jersey and Texas received the most FEMA aid during this time period.

“Climate change is causing more and more extreme weather events, putting at risk not only the lives and livelihoods of Americans but also significant taxpayer funds,” said Erin Auel, CAP Research Assistant and co-author of the paper. “As global temperatures continue to climb, these events are going to become more frequent, more powerful, more deadly, and more costly. Taking steps to address climate change and better prepare for the changes that are currently irreversible will save the United States significant amounts of money in the long term and reduce the devastation we have seen from natural disasters in recent years.”

The Costs of Disasters, Direct and Indirect

From the Guardian, this article about Australia: Natural disasters costing Australia 50% more than estimated. Reports find increases in family violence and mental health problems due to stress of natural disasters outweighs cost of rebuilding infrastructure. Some excerpts:

The cost of natural disasters in Australia is 50% more than previously estimated– $9bn in 2015 – and is set to increase to $33bn by 2050 even ignoring the effect of climate change, according to two reports commissioned by the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities.

The reports included the first analysis of the economic costs of social impacts of natural disasters, and concluded they cost the economy more than tangible impacts like damage to property.

Among the tangible costs, the biggest occurred when critical infrastructure was damaged. Despite this, there was no formal requirement to consider resilience when making decisions about building infrastructure.

The reports said more investment was needed at times other than in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, with funding also required for community and infrastructure resilience, as well as longer-term social care.

Natural Disasters Threaten Power Grid

After reading Ted Koppel’s book, Lights Out, and related articles about how vulnerable the power grids in the U.S. are to terrorist attacks, it is clear to me that we should not lose sight of the fact that natural disasters have the potential to do major damage.

See: Extreme weather increasingly threatening U.S. power grid

Power outages related to weather take out between $18 billion to $33 billion from the nation’s economy. Analysis of industry data found that these storms are a growing threat to, and the leading cause of outages in, the U.S. electric grid. The past decade saw power outages related to bad weather increase, which means that power companies must find a way address this problem.

Unfortunately, if you want to see the full text of the journal article cited, you have to pay for it.

Guidance for Business Community Post Disaster

Restore your Economy is a website maintained by the International Economic Development Council, sponsored by the Economic Development Agency of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce.

It provides resources and best practice information for public and private stakeholders who are seeking to rebuild their local economies after an economic disruption, be it a natural disaster or man-made crisis, as well as assisting the business community in preparing for a disruption.

It is a one-stop shop of disaster preparedness, post-disaster economic recovery, and economic resiliency resources, tools, event announcements as well as opportunities to connect with peers through social media groups.

Economic Impact of Nepal Earthquakes

From the WSJ this article: Nepal Earthquake’s Economic Toll Expected to Be Massive. Foreign aid could have outsize impact on poor South Asian nation. [Note: If you have trouble getting the whole text, try using Google.] An excerpt:

“It’s not only money that you need for reconstruction, but also human knowledge and a functioning government ….”  “Nepal belongs to a category of countries where it is unclear whether the ability to execute reconstruction will be sufficient.”

Effects of Disasters on Corporations

From Fortune magazine:  How much do natural disasters really cost corporate America?  Sales growth of supplier firms directly hit by a natural disaster drops by around five percentage points, according to a study. Some details:

So the key question is: When a shock — like a natural disaster or financial crisis — hits a supplier, what really happens to the firms in that network? Is there a spillover effects? To address this issues, we studied the transmission of shock caused by natural disasters in the past 30 years in the U.S. within the supply chain of publicly traded firms. We analyzed a sample of 2000 large corporations and 4000 of their suppliers.

Some Articles on Business Recovery and Resilience

I happened to be going through some older papers in my save file, and then found free copies to download from the Create Homeland Security Center. Two recent papers are worth reading, in my opinion. See: