Ninety percent of all counties in the United States have experienced a weather disaster over the past decade, and these climate-fueled events have caused more than $740 billion in damages, according to a new report from the climate adaptation group Rebuild by Design.
The “Atlas of Disaster,” a first-of-its-kind study published on Wednesday, analyzes a decade of federal disaster spending to reveal which parts of the country have been hit hardest by climate change, and which are most vulnerable to future catastrophes. The report finds that the federal disaster relief system is both underfunded and inefficient: The government lacks the authority and resources to help communities fully recover after disasters, and it also spends too much money on rebuilding in risky areas.
“It shows unequivocally that climate change is here and that all taxpayers are paying for it,” said Amy Chester, the managing director of Rebuild by Design. The organization began as a federal government initiative to help the Northeast recover from Hurricane Sandy, and is now housed at New York University’s Institute for Public Knowledge.
States like Florida and California often draw the most attention for enduring extreme climate disasters like hurricanes and wildfires, but the Rebuild by Design report reveals that almost every part of the U.S. has been touched by disaster: Nine out of 10 counties experienced a flood, fire, windstorm, or other disaster severe enough to merit federal assistance between 2011 and 2021. Only the temperate Upper Midwest and the dry inland reaches of the Great Basin largely avoided widespread damage. Read more >>