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The Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of Natural Disasters

Security firm ADT analyzed 65 years of FEMA data to produce a detailed report about the frequency and effects of various types of natural disasters by state and county.

Natural Disasters: Examining the Impact from 1953 to 2018

Who is affected? By what type of threat? When? Where? Why? And above all, how? How much did the disasters cost? In dollars? In lives? In property damage? This is an illuminating work of scholarship and well worth the ten minutes it takes to read. When you’re done, you’ll be able to amaze family and friends around the Christmas dinner table. For example, which state leads the nation in disaster declarations for …

  • … each 1000 square miles? New Jersey
  • … wildfires, droughts and hurricanes? Texas
  • … freezing? Florida
  • … flooding? Iowa
  • … tornadoes? Georgia

Timing, Type, Location and Impact of Natural Disasters

Which year had the highest number of fatalities? 2005 with Hurricanes Katrina, Dennis and Wilma, California wildfires, etc.

Which year had the highest damage costs in dollars? 2017 with $312.7 billion

Fatalities and Damage Costs by Year from 2003 to 2017. Source: ADT

What type of natural disaster is most likely to damage the nation’s economy? Tropical storms. One-third of the gross domestic product is produced in states along the Gulf and Atlantic coastlines, which are especially vulnerable to hurricane damage.

What’s the most likely type of natural disaster in Texas? Hurricanes.

Top types of natural disaster declarations by state. Source: ADT.

What’s the most likely type of natural disaster in California? Flooding. (But wildfires also rank high).

Who has the most severe storm declarations? Missouri with more than 1200 during the study period.

You’ll be pleased to know that NO county in Texas made the top 20 counties in the nation for FEMA natural disaster declarations. Who was the highest? Balmy Los Angeles County.

Some Results Counterintuitive

Some of these results are obvious and some counterintuitive. The counterintuitive ones (freezing in Florida?) have to do with the lack of disaster preparedness. Other states expect freezing weather and prepare for it.

All in all, ADT produced a fascinating study of natural disasters illustrated with revealing graphics. There’s more. Much more. I have just scratched the surface in this review. It’s well worth the time to read the entire report. Check it out.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/19/2019 with help from Jacque Havelka

842 Days since Hurricane Harvey an 91 since Imelda