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April 25, 2019

Natural disasters in 2018 cost the nation $91 billion in damages

February 6, 2019
Robert Simmons Jr. and his kitten “Survivor” are rescued from floodwaters in New Bern, N.C., on Sept. 14, 2018, after Hurricane Florence dumped several inches of rain in the area overnight. (Andrew Carter/The News & Observer via AP) (Andrew Carter / AP)

Natural disasters, fueled at least in part by climate change, cost the United States $91 billion in 2018, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A report released by the agency Wednesday revealed there were 14 weather and climate disasters costing more than $1 billion across the country last year. The bulk of the costs — about $73 billion — were linked to just three events, according to the AA.

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Hurricane Florence, which made landfall last September and slammed the Carolinas with days of rain, caused $25 billion in damages while Hurricane Michael, which devastated Florida, came with a $24 billion price tag. The “complex of western wildfires” that raged across California also cost the country around $24 billion.

According to the report, 2018 saw the fourth-highest total costs since the AA first started tracking the data in 1980. Since then, the United States has shelled out more than $1.6 trillion in losses due to costly weather events.

The worst year on the books is 2017, which saw 16 separate high-cost climate events, including Hurricanes Harvey Irma and Maria. The natural catastrophes that year cost the country a huge $306 billion in total damages.

This year also marked the second consecutive year “in which a new record was set for national losses due to western wildfires,” according to the report. California was hard hit with a spate of fires that burned throughout the summer and fall.

The Camp Fire in November was particularly devastating and burned more than 150,000 acres in the northern part of the state.

The AA also noted that 2018 was the eighth consecutive year with eight or more billion-dollar disasters. According to the report, the average has long stood at about 6.2 disasters annually.

President Trump and his administration have long resisted calls for action on climate change. During his first year in office, he withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, a global pact aimed at reducing carbon gas emissions by 2020. And in wake of the recent frigid weather chilling out the nation, the President took to Twitter to mock the concept of global warming.

“Large parts of the country are suffering from tremendous amounts of snow and near record setting cold,” he said in a January tweet. “Would be bad to have a little good old fashioned Global Warming right now!”

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