US$67 Billion FEMA Bill Just the Tip of America’s Disaster Costs
The United States spent US$67 billion in the decade after 2005 on weather and wildfire disaster relief, with the largest per capita spending going to two states—Louisiana and Mississippi—that are hotbeds of anti-Washington sentiment in this election year.
Like this story? Subscribe to The Energy Mix and never miss an edition of our free e-digest.
The Center for American Progress (CAP) examined the taxpayer-funded U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) disaster relief spending between 2005 and 2015, looking for trends. It found that FEMA “issued more than $67 billion in grants to assist communities and individuals devastated by extreme weather and wildfires.”
That represented about $200 for each U.S. resident over the decade period. “The states that received the most FEMA disaster assistance spending per capita were Louisiana ($4,345), Mississippi ($1,607), North Dakota ($843), and New York ($807),” Center researchers Erin Auel and Alison Cassady write in a post on EcoWatch.
And FEMA’s spending is just a partial indicator of the costs the U.S. public sector bears for relief during and after extreme weather and fire events. It doesn’t include state and local spending on smaller disasters, or other federal disaster assistance to agriculture.
“Climate change will worsen heat waves, winter storms, and hurricanes. It will exacerbate extremes in precipitation, leading to more severe droughts and wildfires in some areas and heavier rainfall and flooding in others,” Auel and Cassady add. “And when the damage is done, taxpayers will be left to pick up the bill.”