Natural Disasters in 2012: The State of Emergency Management in the United States

Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg in 2012 in terms of natural disasters in the United States. The Western wildfires in the fall, the severe weather in the Midwest and Ohio Valley in April, the drought and heat wave in the central portion of the country, the Midwest and Texas tornadoes in April, and Hurricane Isaac in August resulted in $110 billion weather disasters in 2012.

In fact, the extensive drought in much of the country, followed by Hurricane Sandy, made 2012 the second-costliest year for the country in terms of natural disasters since 1980, according to federal officials at the National Climate Data Center.

Eleven events alone each caused upwards of $1 billion in damages, including the wildfires in the West, which burned more than 9 million acres. The 11 major extreme weather events of 2012 also killed more than 300 people, with Hurricane Sandy resulting in 159 deaths alone.

Hurricane Sandy was the costliest disaster of 2012, resulting in more than $65 billion in damages, due to record storm surges, widespread power outages, and flooding of historic proportions all along the eastern seaboard. The drought, which wreaked havoc on the western portion of the United States, is estimated to have caused upwards of $30 billion in damages. The National Climate Data Center reports that last year’s drought rivaled that of the 1930s.

The extreme weather events of 2012 are just a few of the reasons why states, cities, counties, and even suburbs have comprehensive emergency management teams in place, who are skilled to handle both natural and manmade disasters and are prepared to respond to these disasters, regardless of their size and scope. Collaboration between federal, state, and local emergency management departments helps make the system a seamless one, thereby allowing emergency management professionals to best prepare for, respond to, and recover from disaster events.