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.”

LA Flood Costs Estimated at $15B, Mostly Uninsured

Louisiana Flood of 2016 seen costing up to $15 billion, mostly uninsured

The flooding that damaged as many as 110,000 homes and more than 100,000 vehicles in Louisiana last month cost $10 billion to $15 billion, with most of the sum uninsured, according to a risk modeler.

Private residential policies don’t protect against flooding in the U.S., and at least 80 percent of the damaged homes lacked coverage through a government program, according to a report Friday from Impact Forecasting, an arm of insurance broker Aon.

The High Cost of Disaster Recovery – Federal Outlay Data

Federal outlays are just one component of the total expenditure on disaster recovery, but here are some recent totals: U.S. Disaster Recovery 10 Year Bill $300 Billion. A few details:

Disaster recovery just from extreme weather and wildfires cost American taxpayers $300 billion in the past decade, the White House’s former “resilience” specialist told the general session of the 29th annual Florida Governor’s Hurricane Conference.

“That is just what Uncle Sam spent,” Josh Sawislak told the conference. He said the figure doesn’t count billions in insured and uninsured losses by individuals, businesses and local governments. Nearly half of that was just from 2011 to 2013.

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:

Costs of Disasters Globally Expected to Escalate

Natural Disasters Could Cost $750 Billion Annually in 15 Years: AIR Study. Some excerpts:

Economic losses from global natural catastrophes likely will triple over the next 15 years, unless steps are taken to reduce bad development choices, according to preliminary results of a catastrophe modeling study presented at the third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan.

The study, which was conducted by the Boston-based modeling firm AIR Worldwide, examines the trend of growing economic losses from global natural catastrophes by looking at nearly 20 years of historical events.

Here is the direct link to AIR Worldwide and here is a link to their Infographic.


Severe Impacts on Business from Snow Storms in Northeast

We have all seen the dramatic pictures of the snow piles in Boston, but the less noticeable impacts on those on people, businesses, and parents of school children. It is hard to believe, but even with 100 plus inches of snow on the ground, and the major cash outlays by the City of Boston, FEMA has yet to grant Boston a disaster declaration.  Probably many other nearby localities have applied for federal assistance too.

Among the many indicators of hardship is the slump in business sales. See:
Winter storms battered sales of small businesses, survey shows.

As snow piled ever higher last month, sales slumped dramatically for retailers, restaurants, and other small businesses in Massachusetts….

The poll of more than 1,600 companies found sales fell an average of 24 percent between Jan. 26 and Feb. 22, compared with the same period a year earlier. Retailers and restaurants were hit hardest by the weather, with sales falling nearly 50 percent….

As noted in the article, for some businesses the lack of consumers is a hardship and for some (notably small restaurants), it may be fatal.

Just because CNN and the other media stop showing pictures, that does not mean the problems in recovering communities are over.

New CRS Report on the Disaster Relief Fund

New report from the Congressional Research Service is titled Disaster Relief Fund; Overview and Selected Issues. May 2014.

This report not only provides basic information about federal payment for disasters but also makes some proposals for better management of the disaster declaration process (see pp. 15-23). A good basic document to add to your personal library.

Thanks to Bill Cumming for the citation.