The North Atlantic hurricane season of 2019 is predicted to be roughly average, with about 14 named storms including six full-fledged hurricanes. Last week, the government passed a bill for a $19.1 billion relief package to help regions of the United States still recovering from last year’s natural disasters. 2018 was officially the costliest year on record according to recent data.
The U.S. is more vulnerable to economic damage from natural disasters than any other nation, according to a recent analysis. It ranks first for the number of lives adversely affected by natural disasters, among developed countries. With the costs of repairs and insurance inflating every year, Americans face more and more expensive events.
Since 1980, disasters have cost the U.S. $1.6 trillion (figures adjusted to the 2019 Consumer Price Index) and almost half of those losses came during the four most expensive years: 2017, 2005, 2012 and 2018. While emergency relief bills deliver necessary aid, reliance on them has become an obstacle to more lasting, structural preparedness, particularly in the last few years, said Josh Sawislak, a strategic advisor to Four Twenty Seven, a consultancy focused on climate economics.
The federal government has increased funding recently. This year’s budget for disaster relief had delays due to disagreements on Capitol Hill over border issues and levels of support for Puerto Rico, still recovering from Hurricane Maria in 2017.
The logistics of saving people from disasters starts long before said disaster and requires investment. Weather forecasts, warning systems and myriad other factors determine what happens during an emergency, said Samantha Montano, an assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Management at North Dakota State University. Every dollar spent on preparing for disasters prevents $6 in spending on relief and recovery, according to the National Institute of Building Sciences.
In the fall, the Disaster Recovery Reform Act directed the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to help local governments plan storm evacuation routes, wildfire prevention and other practices that will move people to safety or prevent harm in the first place. The law also set up a mechanism that contributes an additional 6% of emergency disaster relief to FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program, which helps pay for preventative measures.
“It’s a start,” Sawislak said. “If we don’t want to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on recovering for disaster, we need to spend tens of billions [on resilience].”
You can take the initiative and decide to be ready for the next hurricane or storm in Florida, with Pace, and other finance options it is easy to see a path to protection for your home and loved ones. People are finally beginning to see that the initial costs of impact windows and doors can be offset by the savings that they bring in time, and the human value they can bring is priceless!
The price of repairs, in both human and financial terms, is always going to be higher than the cost of being well protected before a natural disaster occurs – Howard Van Natta, President of Wrights Impact Window & Door.
SOURCES: Congressional Research Service, NOAA, Bloomberg