The Maroon

Louisiana among top disaster relief spenders in United States

Photo+credit%3A+MOVE.ORG%2F
Photo credit: MOVE.ORG/

Photo credit: MOVE.ORG/

Photo credit: MOVE.ORG/

John Casey

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The state of Louisiana has seen its fair share of devastating natural disasters and, according to a recent study by MOVE.org, it’s costing the state billions of dollars.

In fact, the $11 billion that the state spent on property damage as a result of natural disasters over the past decade ranks second only to Texas, which spent a whopping $53 billion.

The study analyzed data collected from 2008 until 2018, focusing on eight disasters that cause the most damage to property: flash floods, floods, hurricanes, heavy rain, heavy snow, tornadoes, tsunamis and wildfires.

According to the data compiled by MOVE.org, Louisiana’s disaster spending in terms of property damage can be attributed to primarily flooding and flash flooding which accounts for almost $10 billion. Hurricane damage adds on another $935 million and tornado damage costs sit at about $168 million. The remaining four disasters calculated in the study had little to no impact in Louisiana.

Hurricane Katrina occurred prior to the parameters of the MOVE.org study, but according to the National Hurricane Center, it caused $161 billion in total damages over the course of its tear through the Mississippi Delta.

The tremendous spending by Texas could be almost exclusively attributed to hurricanes and flash flooding, accounting for $50 billion. The author of the study, Darina Murashev, pointed to Hurricane Harvey as the single greatest impact on the state’s disaster spending.

“Between January and December of 2017, Texas lost $43,544,000,000 on flash floods, which was the most the state had spent on any natural disaster in the past ten years, so yes, Hurricane Harvey cost the most spending on property damage,” Murashev said.

The National Hurricane Center estimates the total damage from Harvey at $125 billion, the second costliest hurricane since 1900 behind Hurricane Katrina.

The states of Tennessee, Alabama and Missouri sit at third, fourth and fifth in terms of property damage spending, respectively. Tennessee, like Louisiana, can point to flooding as the most costly disaster, accounting for nearly 90 percent of its $5 billion in disaster-related property damage spending.

For Alabama and Missouri, however, tornado damage accounts for over 98 percent of Alabama’s $4.5 billion in spending and 80 percent of Missouri’s nearly $4.3 billion in spending.

Murashev believes that the human footprint on the environment is a direct contributor to the extent of damage caused by natural disasters.

“Even though this was not mentioned in our coverage of which states lost the most money to natural disasters, I do think every state, including Louisiana, is spending more money on natural disasters than 50 years ago, and that may be due to climate change and the way we treat the Earth,” Murashev said.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Delaware and Hawaii spent the least on property damage over the past decade. Delaware spent only $1.3 million over the ten year span, less than a twentieth of a percent of Texas’ spending.

Hawaii spent only $15 million, however, the study does not include numbers from the recent Kilauea volcanic eruptions in 2018 according to Murashev.

“We used the NOAA’s National Center of Environmental Information to find our data and the only option they had that was related to volcanos was volcanic ash, which doesn’t necessarily look at volcanoes as a whole. So no, we did not look at damage from volcanos in this report.”

California, which has been plagued by wildfires for the past several years, ranked in the top 15 in terms of property damage spending.

The US southeast and midwestern regions spent the most as a whole, while the majority of the western United States and New England ranked in the bottom fifteen.

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