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The Cost of Disaster

Hurricane Harvey was very destructive. It cost a lot of money to clean up after the storm. SCOTT OLSON—GETTY IMAGES

Massive hurricanes. Raging wildfires. They helped make 2017 a costly year. In fact, last year was the most expensive year ever for weather disasters in the U.S. Sixteen of them cost a total of $306 billion. That’s according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The previous record was set in 2005. It was $215 billion.

NOAA tracks seven types of disasters. In 2017, six types occurred. Hurricanes caused the most harm.

Why is weather becoming so destructive? The population is growing. More people are living in areas prone to floods and fires. “Climate change is also playing a [growing] role,” says NOAA’s Adam Smith.