Rising Costs from Hurricane Damage Reflect Rising Development in Hurricane-Prone Areas

(p. A10) Stephen Strader, who studies the geography of disasters at Villanova University, calls the increased development in areas vulnerable to hurricanes the “expanding bull’s-eye effect.” As the target — the number of people, homes and businesses in a vulnerable area — grows, the potential for storms to cause costly damage increases. “There’s more things in the path of these hurricanes than there’s ever been,” he said.

. . .

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey lingered over the Houston area for days, dropping more than 50 inches of rain in some places. The storm ultimately cost an estimated $149 billion — more, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than any other hurricane since 1980 besides Katrina in 2005.

This ongoing property development in the parts of the U.S. that are most at risk of hurricane damage also created an additional risk, destroying the natural barriers that would otherwise help protect coastal areas from the storms. In Florida, “hardened” waterfront properties have replaced “spongelike” wetlands and mangroves that were more able to absorb storm surges and rainfall, as Strader has explained.

For the full commentary, see:

Ian Prasad Philbrick and Ashley Wu. “Population Growth Makes Hurricanes More Costly.” The New York Times (Monday, December 5, 2022): A10.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Dec. 2, 2022, and has the title “Population Growth Is Making Hurricanes More Expensive.”)

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