Decade of Destruction: The High Cost of Hurricanes

During the last 10 years, the Atlantic basin has seen a spike in hurricanes that have resulted in catastrophic destruction. This infographic explores the extent of damage within the United States as well as rescue and relief efforts.

The Past 10 Years (2004-2013)

The Atlantic basin hurricane season lasts from June 1 to November 30; it peaks from August to October.

Number of Hurricanes per year:

Year Number of Hurricanes (Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale 1 to 5) Major Hurricanes (Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale 3, 4, or 5)
2004 9 6
2005 15 7
2006 5 2
2007 6 2
2008 8 5
2009 3 2
2010 12 5
2011 12 5
2012 10 2
2013 2 0
Total 77 35

Major Hurricane Timeline: 2004-2013

Damage in US Billions

Katrina and Sandy by the Numbers

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Sandy

Relief and Recovery (2004-2013)

There are three key players in disaster recovery efforts: the federal government, nongovernmental organizations, and state and local governments. Following are examples of how each reacts to disasters.

Federal Government

FEMA; Federal Emergency Management Agency, created by an executive order signed by President Jimmy Carter on April 1, 1979.

Annual FEMA Spending (In US Billions)

Sandy Donations

FEMA and the Department of Defense provided the following:

Nongovernmental Organizations

Katrina Recovery

State and Local Governments

Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) Program:

Provides funds for projects to reduce or eliminate risk of flood damage to buildings that are insured under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) on an annual basis.

Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) Program:

Floodplain Management Program:

The Next 10 Years

According to, as of 2013, the 10 most vulnerable and overdue cities for a hurricane are the following: (also listed are anticipated damage expenses per capita)

When thinking about what can be done to curtail the expense of massive hurricanes, consider the following analysis from the Center for American Progress:

The Federal government invests only $1 in reducing disaster damages for every $6 it spends on disaster recovery. However, there is a 4-to-1 return on investments that reduce disaster damages. It is estimated that $1.1 billion in damages is prevented annually through the implementation of local flood ordinances.


1FEMA Disaster relief fund, annual appropriations (enacted appropriation and emergency supplemental funds
2 Actual allocations
3Enacted budget authority
4 Requested budget authority

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