The Christian Science Monitor, December 2023
When it comes to natural disasters, 2023 has been a record setter. From the Maui wildfires to Hurricane Idalia to California flooding, 25 confirmed weather disasters in the United States so far this year have racked up losses exceeding $1 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. That’s triple the amount for an average year since 1980. And, although 2023 lags behind other years in the total dollar-value of damages, the four-decade trend is clear: bigger storms, translating into bigger spending in recovery efforts.
In August, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the government agency responsible for disaster aid, announced its reserves were running low, prompting the Biden administration to request an additional $4 billion to get the agency through the end of the year. The request was granted in September, but there is an added twist. The impact of natural disasters and the federal funding that follows are not always distributed equitably. The agency is responding to pressure to address that challenge.