- This summer, about 1 in 3 Americans faced a weather disaster, The Washington Post reported.
- Since June, at least 388 people have died from extreme weather, the Post’s analysis found.
- Weather crises include unprecedented wildfires in the West and hurricanes in the Northeast.
About one in three Americans live in a county that has experienced a weather disaster over the past three months, a Washington Post analysis found.
The Post’s analysis of federal disaster declarations also found that since June, at least 388 people have died from extreme weather
In California, it’s estimated that close to two million acres of land have been burned by more than 7,000 wildfire incidents so far this year, according to Cal Fire.
The state has already surpassed the number of wildfires it had this time last year and firefighters are struggling to contain fires as new ones start. Tens of thousands of people have already had to leave their homes and experts looking at wildfires in the state have said it could take until the end of the year to contain the fires.
Last week, Hurricane Ida not only left millions without power in Louisiana after making landfall near New Orleans, but its remnants caused floods along the Northeast, leaving at least 51 people dead across five states and many structures flooded and destroyed.
In July, Tropical Storm Elsa forced officials to stop search and rescue efforts at the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South building in South Florida.
The Post’s analysis also found that 64% of Americans live in areas that had multi-day heatwaves. While not yet categorized as a weather disaster, heatwaves are considered to be some of the most dangerous weather, the Post reported.
In June, hundreds of people ended up in the hospital for heat-related illnesses after temperatures broke records at times surpassing 115 degrees Fahrenheit in cities across the Northwest.
Craig Fugate, former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Florida’s Emergency Management Division, told the Post he’s never seen a summer with some many climate crises.
These weather incidents have left many across the country with higher utility bills, damaged property, and in some cases, dealing with illnesses, the Post reported.
After back-to-back disasters this summer, climate and policy experts told The New York Times the US was unprepared to handle them.
“These events tell us we’re not prepared,” Alice Hill, who oversaw planning for climate risks on the National Security Council during the Obama administration, told the Times. “We have built our cities, our communities, to a climate that no longer exists.”
Fugate said communities need to start preparing for the “unprecedented” and ensure they have appropriate preparations in place, including evacuation plans, stormwater systems, and shelters to handle weather crises.
He added that this would be expensive given that the US already spends more than $81 billion responding to disasters. “It’s a choice between spending now or spending more in the future,” Fugate told the Post.
The Post reported that experts predict a more grim reality if emissions aren’t brought under control, with more frequent and more destructive weather disasters happening in the near future.
“If we want to limit these probabilities, if we want to limit the damages, then we should start to do something for real about mitigating,” earth scientist Claudia Tebaldi of the Joint Global Change Research Institute told the Post. “And we need to start now.”