Report: 90% of U.S. Counties Have Declared Federal Disasters
90% of U.S. counties experienced a climate-related federal disaster over the course of the last decade – but some areas saw more assistance than others. A new report says it’s time to reevaluate how the country invests in preventative measures.
The 650-page report from Rebuild By Design, Atlas of Disaster, found nearly every county in the country had experienced a climate-related federal disaster between 2011 and 2021. In 2021 alone, the country experienced 20 separate billion-dollar climate disasters with over 688 direct or indirect fatalities. But some areas – in particular Southern Louisiana and parts of Appalachia – saw significantly more declarations, as areas more prone to natural disasters.
The purpose of the report is to encourage jurisdictions and agencies to invest more heavily in preventative measures, instead of paying the costs of recovery after the fact. “Every day that we are not investing in adapting our infrastructure to current and future climate conditions, we are actively working against our own pocketbooks. We can do better,” said Rebuild by Design Managing Director Amy Chester.
Among the report’s recommendations:
Reform planning and build capacity – Create a national resilience strategy that uses baseline climate information of future risks that federal, state and local governments can use to ensure projects and policies are developed to withstand projected climate impacts.
Amend outdated policies – Update the Stafford act to encompass all aspects of loss from climate change, including loss of life, health, livelihoods, etc; ensure each funding program prioritizes those with the greatest vulnerabilities.
Collect, disseminate, and utilize data – Identify vulnerabilities specific to regions to inform where and how money is invested; require states to report annual disasters and their costs to provide a better understanding of the toll of extreme weather events and related policies.
Click here to read the complete report.