Natural Disasters Impose Enormous Costs on America

  • 12 of the 15 costliest insured catastrophes worldwide between 1970–2015 occurred since 2000 – 75% of which occurred here in the U.S.
  • The role of the federal government in disaster loss payment has grown significantly. In 1955, the federal government’s share of the total disaster loss payments was about 5% from Hurricane Diane. In 2005, that number jumped to about 50% after Hurricane Katrina. In 2012, the federal government’s share of the total disaster loss payments from Hurricane Sandy was a record 80%.
  • Since 1980, natural disasters have cost the country more than $1 trillion.
  • 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.

Strong Building Codes Save 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.
  • An Institute for Business and Home Safety 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.