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The recovery bill from Hurricane Sandy is still being added up. Photo: Office of Gov. Cuomo
The recovery bill from Hurricane Sandy is still being added up. Photo: Office of Gov. Cuomo

Weather disasters on the rise and taxpayers are getting the bill

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The impact and severity of weather events like the tornado that hit Oklahoma City are increasing due to a changing global climate, according to research from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

And more of the related economic burden is being carried by taxpayers. In 2012, federal spending directed toward disaster response for storms, wild fires, floods and drought reached nearly $100 billion, the NRDC report says, beating out funding for education and transport.

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Reported by

Kate O'Connell
Reporter, The Innovation Trail

Laurie Johnson, chief economist for the NRDC’s climate and clean air program, says not only is the damage from severe weather increasing, but those costs are being met with federal dollars.

“Increasingly the insurance industry is getting out of the business, because it’s not good business. So, as the private insurance industry has been pulling out of the market, starting with Katrina really, the government has had to step in and to take care of these disasters.”

In 2012, she says, the costs amounted averaged out to roughly $1,100 per tax payer, including those not directly affected by disasters.

Tim Dodge from the Independent insurance agents and brokers of New York says it’s true that in the national context, insurers are less likely to cover damage from weather disturbances.

But, he says it’s different in upstate New York.

“Upstate has its vulnerabilities but we’re not as vulnerable as other parts of the state and other parts of the country and so insurance companies, all things being equal, will be more inclined to continue writing insurance policies up here that they might not be so eager to do in other parts of the country.”

Dodge says as weather events grow increasingly severe, and with the Atlantic Hurricane season beginning on June 1st, people in the North-east need to get insurance and be prepared.


Reporting by the Innovation Trail is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Visit

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