Surviving the Storm: Billion Dollar Disasters

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Since 1980, the U.S has sustained 291 billion-dollar disasters. 119 occurred just in the last decade. 76 took place in Pennsylvania. 22 separate disasters in 2020 broke the previous annual record of 16 events back in 2017. It was also the sixth year in a row with 10 or more events. Increase in population and material wealth, along with growth in vulnerable areas like coasts and river floodplains, are all factors for rising costs. But significant life upheaval can be challenging to quantify.

David Abramson, professor at New York University, said that physical and mental health, economic and housing stability, and social role adaptation are all aspects of recovery. Abramson also dove deeper into the types of mental health diseases at can result from disasters. Those include, anxiety, stress, post traumatic stress disorder and more.

However, the worst mental health impacts can occur three years after an event, long after federal support for recoveries has dried up. Abramson revealed that doesn’t align well with standard FEMA recovery funding. Most of the Stafford Act and other recovery funding tends to have an 18-month time frame.

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