In August and September, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma ravaged various parts of the Western hemisphere. The devastation, from the loss of life to the damage to infrastructure, is nearly inconceivable. According to figures reported by The Guardian and The Los Angeles Times, these two hurricanes will end up costing approximately $400 billion in combined dam age.
Given these recent events, let us examine some of the costliest natural disasters in recent history and how they impacted economies.
2011 – Earthquake and tsunami in Japan
In a level of nearly unprecedented devastation, Tohoku, Japan experienced the fourth most powerful earthquake since 1900, which incited a tsunami. Thousands of people died, tens of thousands were evacuated, and hundreds of thousands were left without electricity or running water. The cost of the event was estimated to be $235 billion, the costliest natural disaster in recorded history.
2005 – Hurricane Katrina
Currently the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States, Hurricane Katrina saw far-reaching damage. In addition to the damage done to infrastructure in the American South, 19 percent of American oil production was impacted by the hurricane. Ultimately, some experts estimated that the total damage exceeded$100 billion.
2008 – Sichuan earthquake
In one of the most devastating disasters to affect Asia, a large area of China was affected by a massive earthquake that was felt by several surrounding countries. Hundreds of thousands were either injured or killed as a result of the earthquake.
Following the disaster, Chinese state media reported that the government would face a repair bill of roughly $150 billion.
2012 – Hurricane Sandy
In 2012, the American Northeast was hit with a hurricane the likes of which the region had not seen in years – or maybe ever. Hundreds of thousands of homes and cars were damaged or destroyed and led to the deaths of more than 150 individuals. Ultimately, the damage caused by
Hurricane Sandy is estimated to have exceeded $65 billion, making it the second-costliest natural disaster in American history.
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