Watertown daily times the places in the united states where disaster strikes again and again electricity and magnetism equations


In the last 16 years, parts of Louisiana have been struck by six hurricanes. Areas near San Diego were devastated by three particularly vicious wildfire seasons. And a town in eastern Kentucky has been pummeled by at least nine storms severe enough to warrant federal assistance.

Christina DeConcini, the director of government affairs at the World Resources Institute, said that federal programs do not adequately emphasize adapting to the risks posed by climate change. She said that instead of just being responsive, the government should stress building for resilience against disasters.

Some residents continue living in disaster-stricken areas because they cannot afford to leave. Others rebuff appeals to resettle, citing deep family ties or a sense of fatalism. Rather than move the town, “it’s easier to throw your hands up and say, ‘Forget it,’” said Linda Lowe, the president of a historical society in flood-prone Olive Hill, Ky.

“Abandoning a location and moving a city makes sense from a scientific, risk point of view, but the fact is that to get to a place culturally and psychologically where that conversation can be tolerated is a difficult thing to imagine,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University. “It’s not all that rational — but I guess a lot of these things are not really rational.”

As hurricane season begins, residents of Slidell, Louisiana, near New Orleans, are planning ahead. Susan McClamroch, who works at a museum there, said locals joke that they “start eating everything in the freezer” this time of year because of the likelihood of a power failure after a hurricane.

Brian Smith, who runs a print shop in Slidell, said the business flooded in 1995 and again during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. So when Hurricane Isaac hit in 2012, flooding his shop once more, he moved it away from the vulnerable downtown area.

Three Brothers Bakery in Houston has flooded five times since 2001, most recently during Hurricane Harvey. But its owners, Robert and Janice Jucker, the self-proclaimed “king and queen of disaster,” are not moving — and Janice Jucker, who anticipates more storms, is unafraid.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration attempts to calculate the full cost of major disasters, namely those that cause more than a billion dollars in damage. It estimates that 2017 was the costliest year on record, with 16 billion-dollar disasters that together cost the United States more than $300 billion.

In the first three months of 2018, billion-dollar storms hit the United States three times. In the first three months of an average year, one disaster that causes more than a billion dollars in damage occurs, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration records dating back to 1980.

Over the same period, the number of buildings has ballooned in parts of the country susceptible to tropical storms as the population in those places has also increased. In 2016, there were more than 3.6 times as many homes in states that border the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean as in 1940, according to the Census Bureau.

But scientists also contend that climate change is expected to lead to stronger, wetter hurricanes overall. It has also made them more destructive, Klotzbach said. Because global sea levels have risen, hurricanes create storm surges that go farther inland, flooding homes and businesses.

Only about 4 percent of all hurricanes that make landfall globally hit the United States, said Robert Mendelsohn, an economist at Yale University who studies the damage caused by hurricanes. Yet 60 percent of worldwide damage from hurricanes happens in the United States.

Mendelsohn attributed this partly to federal government programs that discourage citizens and local governments from building walls to protect housing near the coast. Only in the United States do relief programs and subsidized insurance make it attractive for people to move toward disaster-prone areas, he said.