America's Ballooning Disaster Debt

A new report out this week quantifies the federal government's escalating disaster relief spending, a sum that hadn't previously been tabulated and came as a surprise to many.

"Hurricanes, floods and droughts are putting an increasingly large strain on the federal budget," reports Brad Plumer. "A new report out Monday from the Center for American Progress finds that Congress spent at least $136 billion on disaster relief between 2011 and 2013."

"Big, costly natural diasters appear to have become more frequent in the United States over the past few decades. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the number of severe weather events that inflict at least $1 billion in damage (adjusted for inflation) has risen from an average of two per year in the 1980s to more than ten per year since 2010," he adds.

"There are several reasons for the rise in billion-dollar events, experts say. The U.S. population is growing, so more people live in coastal regions, on floodplains, in fire-prone forest areas, and in other high-risk places. The country is also getting wealthier, so there are pricier homes and costlier infrastructure that get damaged in floods, storms, and fires."

"But climate change has also altered at least some weather patterns."

Full Story: The government is spending way more on disaster relief than anybody thought


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