Disasters Result in Costly Rehabilitation

Helen Britto and Lauren Dahlberg-Seeth, Staff Writers

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s hard to miss all the natural disasters that took place this year.  Earthquakes, tornadoes, droughts and blizzards all contributed to 2011 officially surpassing 2008 as the most expensive disaster year. This year, more money was spent repairing damage from natural disasters than any other in history.

While Japan overflowed with water from the tsunami in March, Africa suffered from an extreme drought. Both horrific events cost not only thousands of lives, but billions of dollars in recovery. Japan’s earthquake and consequent tsunami is considered one of the costliest natural disasters in history, with the total damage at an estimated $235 billion. The drought in the Horn of Africa continues to cause a famine affecting more than 12.5 million people.
Natural disasters continued to strike all around the world, with a flash flood in Australia that damaged businesses and homes, and caused 72 to go missing.  China’s ground shook when a 5.8 earthquake hit Beijing, toppling thousands of homes and injuring hundreds.

Tragedy seems to be moving from country to country, and unfortunately the United States has not been immune to the horrendous natural disasters plaguing the globe.
In fact, the U.S. has taken a particularly harsh beating this year. New York suffered from a billion dollar snow blizzard, while the south saw scorching temperatures. Arizona and New Mexico witnessed a record-breaking number of wildfires, and the East Coast felt an uncharacteristically large earthquake.

The coasts weren’t the only ones feeling the effects of natural disasters. Some of the U.S.’s most notable rivers overflowed, and all throughout the Midwest tornadoes popped up, leaving giant paths of destruction.
In the U.S. alone, there have been 10 catastrophes totaling more than one billion dollars each. However, the total cost for disaster damage in the U.S. is approximated to $35 billion, and the numbers continue to rise.
All of these strange occurrences have people questioning what Mother Nature is really trying to tell us. Some scientists believe it’s just a random occurrence while others attribute to the extreme weather to global warming.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Tom Karl, director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center pointed out the trend in the worsening conditions: “These events are abnormal, but it’s part of an ongoing trend we’ve seen since 1980,” said Karl. Whether or not worldwide natural disasters will intesify cannot be determined. Whatever the reason for the increase in disasters, there is a universal agreement that 2011 has not only broken records, but also our piggy banks.