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US Records 23 Major Disasters in 2023, Inflicting $57 Billion in Damages

The United States, grappling with a relentless onslaught of extreme weather events in 2023, has witnessed a staggering 23 major disasters, causing an estimated $57.6 billion in damages and claiming the lives of at least 253 people. This revelation comes from a recent report by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), marking a record-breaking year for the nation’s disaster history.

NOAA’s report, released on Monday, paints a grim picture of the year’s calamities, ranging from devastating wildfires to powerful storms that have wreaked havoc on multiple states, including Hawaii and Florida.

This year’s unprecedented tally of 23 disasters surpasses any previous records, dating back to NOAA’s records starting in 1980. The previous high of 22 disasters was set just two years prior in 2020, underscoring the severity of the ongoing crisis.

The financial toll of these catastrophes is staggering. Collectively, the 23 disasters have inflicted a jaw-dropping $57.6 billion in damages on communities across the nation. Tragically, the human cost has been equally devastating, with at least 253 lives lost in the wake of these disasters.

Among the most notable events was the August wildfire that engulfed the western Hawaiian island of Maui, described as the worst in a century. This catastrophic blaze razed everything in its path, claiming 115 lives and leaving behind an estimated $6 billion in damage.

Shortly thereafter, Hurricane Idalia struck Florida, delivering heavy rainfall along the Big Bend Bay coast. Idalia, the most potent hurricane to hit Florida in 125 years, left a trail of destruction in its wake.

The escalation in climate-related disasters causing billions of dollars in damages has been a consistent trend since 1980. Over the past five years, the average number of such disasters annually has surged to 18, compared to an average of eight per year from 1980 to 2022.

The mounting toll from these catastrophic events has raised pressing concerns about the adequacy of funding and resources at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to address the escalating damages. These concerns are particularly relevant as the nation enters the peak of hurricane season, which traditionally witnesses the highest occurrence of high-strength hurricanes.

U.S. President Joe Biden, acknowledging the grim reality, emphasized the undeniable impact of climate change on the surging frequency and intensity of these disasters. He remarked, “I don’t think there are any more people who don’t believe in the impacts of the climate crisis,” underscoring the urgency of addressing this global challenge.

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