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.

Repeat Disasters

We know that some parts of the country are more vulnerable to disasters than others, and some communities suffer repetitive losses over the years.  The article provides an amazing amount of detail, via data and maps, showing where those events and losses have occurred in the U.S.

From the NY Times: The Places in the U.S. Where Disaster Strikes Again and Again.

In the last 16 years, parts of Louisiana have been struck by six hurricanes. Areas near San Diego were devastated by three particularly vicious wildfire seasons. And a town in eastern Kentucky has been pummeled by at least nine storms severe enough to warrant federal assistance.

Update on May 29: After trying several times to print out a useful copy of this excellent article, I contacted the NY Times. They did not provide much help, but perhaps a reprint could be ordered. I did learn that some articles appear only in their digital version of the paper and not in the hard copy.  Good to know for future reference for the researchers out there.

H. Harvey Second Most Costly U.S. Disaster

From the WSJ: Two Months After Harvey, Houston Continues to Count the Cost
Tens of thousands are still living in hotel rooms from the August hurricane, which is estimated to have cost $73.5 billion in economic loss.

Note that the chart in the article shows total estimated costs for the recent hurricanes with H. Maria and H. Irma numbers lower than for H. Harvey.

FEMA’s Disaster Funding Had Been Flagged by IG at DHS

The Inspector General of DHS had warned about FEMA’s Disaster Funding.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General concluded one-third of the FEMA grants it inspected were improper or unauthorized, a finding that lead him to warn congressional committees about problems at the agency, Bloomberg News reported late Thursday.

The Inspector General found 29 percent of the fiscal 2015 FEMA grants it audited had problems like “duplicated payments, unsupported costs, improper contract costs, and unauthorized expenditures,” according to the report. Audits of FEMA-funded projects since then exhibited other issues.

Proposed Cuts to FEMA Budget

The title of this WashPost article does not mention FEMA, but if you read down to the second half of the article you can see what cuts the new administration proposes: To fund border wall, Trump administration weighs cuts to Coast Guard, airport security.

Updates:

Bear in mind, the cuts to EPA, NOAA, Coast Guard and other federal agencies also will have an impact on emergency management as we currently know it.

The Diva suggests you get ready to defend programs you want and to protest the cuts.

World Bank Report on Annual Cost of Natural Disasters

From the World Bank, Natural Disasters Cost $520B a Year.  Some details:

Global natural disasters cost $520 billion of consumption loss annually, 60 percent larger than asset losses that are commonly reported, the World Bank said in a report.

The estimate is based on the impact of disasters such as floods, windstorms, earthquakes, and tsunamis on people’s well-being, measured by the decline in their consumption, …..

“The design of disaster risk management should, then, not rely only on asset losses,” the World Bank said. “Targeting poorer people with disaster risk reduction interventions — such as dikes and drainage systems — would generate lower gains in avoided asset losses but larger gains in well-being.”

2016 Catastrophe Losses Highest for 4 years

From HS Newswire: Natural catastrophe losses at their highest for four years

A number of devastating earthquakes and powerful storms made 2016 the costliest twelve months for natural catastrophe losses in the last four years. Losses totaled US$ 175 billion, a good two-thirds more than in the previous year, and very nearly as high as the figure for 2012 ($ 180 billion). The share of uninsured losses – the so-called protection or insurance gap – remained substantial at around 70 percent. Almost 30 percent of the losses, some $ 50 billion, were insured.