Everyone understands the gravity of a natural disaster.
Hurricanes can devastate cities, states, and even regions.
But there’s one devastating aspect of natural disasters that many people overlook.
Natural disasters are incredibly scary and can cost thousands of people their lives.
However, sometimes the full breadth of the devastation is not understood.
Natural disasters come with a huge amount of financial cost on many different levels.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), natural disasters cost America $91 billion in 2018.
Here are some of the ways they can be devastating in terms of money.
First, there’s the issue of relief.
Americans spend billions on disaster relief both domestically and abroad.
Relief efforts include food, shelter, first-aid care, and other measures.
Americans are generous, so it’s relatively easy to mobilize around relief efforts, but it’s relatively difficult to get people serious about prevention.
There are methods that can be undertaken to limit the damage of natural disasters, but many people are too willing to ignore the problem.
This is even more troubling in areas where the risk of natural disaster is known, such as in the southeast.
And on a bureaucratic level, housing units can get erected quickly in the face of a crisis, but red tape stifles new building efforts under all other circumstances.
This contributes to the number of older buildings that aren’t as structurally sound.
Next, rebuilding efforts are incredibly costly.
Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, mudslides, and forest fires can force a community or city to undertake massive rebuilding efforts.
Rebuilding costs of the individual can be defrayed by insurance and government aid, but the costs are still incredibly high.
In some cases, people with insurance don’t take prevention and rebuilding seriously enough.
They just assume everything is covered.
But proper prevention could lower—or eliminate—your insurance claim, which saves you money in the long run.
Also, some insurance providers and policies may not payout if you don’t make a reasonable effort to limit damage after the disaster.
For example, flood insurance policies might withhold money if you let mold spread after an incident.
In some instances, the cost is so prohibitive, people simply do not rebuild at all.
Also, there’s the hidden cost of displacement.
Many people are either forced to move, or just to do so on their own.
That creates moving costs, and if people are walking away from their old home at a loss, that only exacerbates the problem.
Also, when people leave an area in big numbers, that can have a big impact on local communities.
Municipal resources may take a big hit, and local businesses might lose a big customer base.
These are the main costs that contribute to the $91 billion damage expenses that Americans must absorb.
Some of the devastation is completely unavoidable, and some of it isn’t.
Give yourself the best chance to get through a natural disaster unscathed by being prepared for that worst-case scenario if it comes.