Mother Nature ran up Uncle Sam’s tab last year.
A rash of natural disasters in 2017 cost the United States about $ 306 billion, making it the most expensive year on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday.
Storm- and climate-related devastation killed 362 people — nearly one person per day — and wounded hundreds more.
The staggering storm damage shattered the record $ 215 in losses set in 2005, CNN noted, when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged the Gulf Coast.
The United States saw 16 disasters last year that each had more than $ 1 billion in losses, NOAA concluded, putting it on par with 2011.
But last year proved to be costlier, with disasters hitting all parts of the country — including three Atlantic hurricanes that caused a combined $ 265 billion, NOAA said.
Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico, is estimated to have cost $ 90 billion.
(HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Nearly half of that damage was caused by Hurricane Harvey, which battered Texas’ shores and left Houston underwater. The late August storm cost $ 125 billion in losses, according to the Maryland-based organization, making it the second-most expensive storm in the last 38 years after Hurricane Katrina.
Hurricane Maria, which has left Puerto Rico without power months after it hit, caused $ 90 billion in damages, while Hurricane Irma racked up another $ 50 billion.
“In 2017, we have seen the rare combination of high disaster frequency, disaster cost and diversity of weather and climate extreme events,” Adam Smith, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information’s lead researcher, said to CNN.
Wildfires in the west, which tore apart California’s wine country last summer and fall, also proved to be damaging.
The unseen aftermath of Hurricane Maria in the heart of Puerto Rico
The blazes cost a total $ 18 billion, which NOAA said was three times the previous wildfire record.
“While we have to be careful about knee-jerk cause-effect discussions, the National Academy of Science and recent peer-reviewed literature continue to show that some of today’s extremes have climate change fingerprints on them,” Marshall Shepherd, a meteorology professor at the University of Georgia and previously the American Meteorological Society’s president, told the Associated Press.
Last year was also the third-warmest one since the government started keeping records in the mid-1890s.
Five of the hottest years have come since 2006, the agency noted.
Hurricane Harvey caused the most damage of the three heavy hitting Atlantic hurricanes to pummel the U.S.
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
President Trump came under fire last year for backing out of the Paris Climate Agreement — eventually the only country not to be involved. Trump recently suggested in a tweet that a spat of cold weather blanketing the northeast picked away at the suggested global warming was real.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration expanded FEMA relief for hurricane-damaged houses of worship, something religious groups have spent decades pushing for.
With News Wire Services