Extreme weather events are costing U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars every year, according to a September report by the Center for American Progress (CAP). Between 2005 and 2015, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, provided more than $67 billion to individuals and local governments in response to major weather-related disaster events, said CAP. This amount included more than $22 billion in assistance following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and $16 billion after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The FEMA figure is just the tip of the iceberg, however. As CAP notes, its findings were likely an “underestimate … of the true cost to taxpayers,” as they did not include the costs of smaller storms and other government spending. Costs borne by private insurers were also not taken into account, nor was the economic fallout that may have stretched for months or even years after a catastrophic event. In the 10 months after Hurricane Katrina, for instance, 95,000 jobs and almost $3 billion in wages were lost in New Orleans, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Following Hurricane Sandy, tens of thousands of people in New York and New Jersey lost their jobs. As the climate continues to warm, experts warn that extreme weather events and wildfires are predicted to increase in frequency and intensity across the U.S. and in countries worldwide. Tropical hurricanes, for instance, are expected to become 2 to 11 percent more intense because of global warming by the end of the century, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The exacerbation of extreme weather disasters will mean not just a heightened risk to lives and property, but financial losses too. The NOAA said last week that the U.S. has already suffered 12 extreme weather-related disasters with losses exceeding $1 billion this year. These include the flooding events in Louisiana, West Virginia and Texas.
From Huff Post Photo Credit John Vlahakis