Natural Disasters Impose Enormous Costs on America

  • According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there were 25 major disasters from 2011-2012 that surpassed $1 billion in economic losses. When the final costs of Sandy are tabulated, the economic toll of these disasters is likely to near $200 billion.
  • 2011 natural disaster economic losses equaled $52 billion in the U.S. and approximately $380 billion worldwide.
  • With 551 fatalities, the 2011 U.S. tornado season was the deadliest in more than 85 years. The Atlantic hurricane season was the third strongest since record-keeping began, with 19 named storms. And in May and June of 2011, the worst floods in decades occurred along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, causing more than $5 billion in overall losses.
  • Hurricane Irene is likely to go down as the eighth most costly catastrophe in the nation’s history.
  • Since 1980, natural disasters have cost the country more than $750 billion.

Strong Building Codes Safe Lives and Protect Property

  • The Louisiana State University (LSU) Hurricane Center estimated that stronger building codes would have reduced wind damage from Hurricane Katrina by 80 percent, saving $8 billion.
  • LSU also studied the impact of strong building codes on a Katrina-level Category Three storm in the state of Mississippi. Strong building codes would have reduced storm damage by $3.1 billion and saved nearly 40,000 buildings from being destroyed or significantly damaged.
  • According to a FEMA commissioned study conducted by the National Institute of Building Sciences, every $1 spent on hazard mitigation provides the nation with $4 in future benefits.
  • A study conducted for the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) found that losses from Hurricane Andrew, which caused more than $20 billion in insured damage in Florida in 1992, would have been reduced by 50 percent for residential property and by 40 percent for commercial property if those structures were built in accordance with model building code standards.
  • Another IBHS study following Hurricane Charley in 2004 found that modern building codes reduced the severity of property losses by 42 percent and the frequency of losses by 60 percent.
  • Twenty five percent of small businesses that are impacted by a natural disaster never reopen their doors.