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Toll of Disasters: Flash Floods, Hurricanes, Storms, and Drought

Weather disasters including hurricanes, storms, flooding, and drought bring destruction and death. How much? We've compiled all the data, including tips on how to prepare.

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Flash Floods, Hurricanes, Tsunamis

We’ve examined the toll of extreme weather damage in the U.S. It’s a sobering review of how many ways the weather can damage your property and add injury or even death. Yet forewarned is forearmed. We also discuss ways to ensure your family’s survival as well as how to protect your home.

Weather Disasters by Type

NOAA does a great job of collecting all the stats around weather disasters. We set the date range to cover 1980 to 2020. Their data counts those weather events that each result in more than $1 billion in damage. 

Leading the data are severe storms with a total count of 132. Next up were tropical cyclones/hurricanes at 52, flooding at 33, drought/heat waves at 28, and winter storms at 18. That doesn’t sound like a lot over the course of four decades, but remember that these are the worst of the worst each one, coming in at more than $1 billion in damage.

Total Deaths by Type of Weather Disaster

Counting the number of disasters is one thing, but examining more closely the death toll can be a sad eye-opener. NOAA’s data shows that tropical cyclones and hurricanes easily top the chart with 6,593 deaths. While severe storms happened more frequently, their death toll registered at 1,766. Hurricanes are so powerful and violent, when they hit, they can cause a staggering amount of damage in a very short period of time.

Deaths caused by drought/heat waves came in at 3,910, winter storms at 1,051, and flooding at 617. It all certainly makes you sit up and take notice. 

Total Cost of Damage

From 1980 to 2020, NOAA recorded a total of more than 1.8 trillion in consumer price index (CPI) dollars in damage across their listing of billion-dollar weather disasters. The majority of that cost came from tropical cyclones and hurricanes at $1.05 trillion. Next up were severe storms at $305 billion, drought/heat waves at $272 billion, flooding at $159 billion, and winter storms at $53 billion. Sadly, deaths and dollars add up quickly with just a few hurricanes.

Extreme One-Day Precipitation in the U.S.

We also dug a bit deeper into extreme one-day precipitation in the U.S. It’s the extremes in precipitation that saturate the soil, drive flash floods, and cause damage to homes and their foundations.

The EPA data identifies the percentage of land area of the contiguous 48 states, where a much greater than normal portion of total annual precipitation has come from extreme single-day events. Between 1980 and 2020, the smallest amount of land area affected was 6.2% in 1992. The largest was a few years later in 1996 with 21% of land area affected. 

Preparation Is the Key to Survival

From the tally above, you can see that tropical cyclones and hurricanes are far and away more deadly and costly than any other type of disaster. They hit fast and hard. If you haven’t already prepared, you can be in considerable trouble. To help, we’ve prepared a detailed listing of things to do in preparation for a hurricane

Severe storms are far more frequent than tropical cyclones or hurricanes. Plus, they can hit almost any time of the year. Given that, it’s best to keep up with a regular maintenance routine to help prevent damage to your home’s foundation.

Here are a few things to take into consideration for your home maintenance planning as well as improvements to protect your home.

Homes With Basements

By far the best approach is to install professional basement waterproofing with interior drainage and a sump pump with battery backup. Supporting that effort is improved exterior drainage from properly sized and installed gutters and downspouts that route rainfall to landscape grading that moves water away from the foundation. Make sure you keep your gutters and downspouts clear.

Homes With Crawl Spaces

As with basement foundations, any cracks and gaps in the walls, joints, or vents can cause leaks and flooding. Add professional crawl space waterproofing and encapsulation to completely address flooding challenges. Sump pumps and dehumidifiers can substantially reduce ongoing moisture issues. Gutters and downspouts are just as critical for crawl spaces.

Homes With Slab Foundations

These types of foundations run the risk of settling and heaving over time with changing soil conditions. Heavy rain and flooding can have a huge impact on these problems, causing significant issues that require foundation repair. Permanent stabilization with piers is one of the best ways to go for slab foundations. Here again, gutters and downspouts need to be maintained to move the water away from the foundation.

We Can Help Prepare Your Home for Severe Weather

To learn more about protecting your home from damage caused by severe weather, contact Groundworks, the nation’s leading foundation solutions company. Schedule a free inspection and repair estimate today with a local Groundworks basement and waterproofing repair specialist near you.

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