Floods are among the most terrifying forces on Earth. They lead to countless disasters throughout history, slow regional economic growth for decades, destroy bridges, roads, and utilities. Homeowners who aren’t covered by insurance have to declare bankrupt. Many can’t rebuild and are forced to start a new life in another part of the country.
The most severe floods in America have happened in the Gulf Coast and Florida, as well as the Mississippi River and Texas, as those areas are utterly vulnerable to hurricanes.
Hurricane Katrina – $250 Billion
The University of North Texas put the total economic impact of Hurricane Katrina at 250 billion, caused as a result of flooding in New Orleans.
One of the main reasons for Hurricane Katrina’s devastation is directly linked to the alteration residents made around New Orleans’s landscape. When the first settlers arrived 300 years ago, New Orleans was above sea level. Now, swamp drainage has sunk the city, and the areas below sea level are at most at risk to flooding. Also, New Orleans relied on a system of levees and seawalls built to avoid flooding. But when Katrina hit on 2005, the dams did not work correctly, resulting in 80% of the city flooded.
Hurricane Harvey – $126.3 Billion
Houston was lucky enough to miss the impact of Hurricane Rita in 2005, but it was not so fortunate with Hurricane Harvey. The storm wrought utter devastation in the Houston area. From August 26 to 30, Harvey moved slowly towards the area, which contributed to the destructive and deadly floods in southeast Texas. The city received more than 60 inches of rain, which caused more than 30,000 people to relocate and around 200,000 homes and businesses were damaged or entirely destroyed.
Hurricane Irma – $50 Billion
Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm that stroke the US on September 6, 2017, was the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history. It battered Florida with gusts of up to 145mph, flooded Miami, brought critical storm surges to the west coast and cut off the Florida Keys. Its winds were 185 miles per hour and lasted 37 hours which is longer than any storm ever recorded. It finally hit southern Florida on September 10, causing a substantial $50 billion in damage.
Hurricane Sandy – $65 Billion
Hurricane Sandy devastated New Jersey on October 29, 2012. Even though it was downgraded to a tropical storm, it still caused $65 billion in damage.
Hurricane Sandy destroyed more than 650,000 homes, and eight million customers lost power. The hurricane caused widespread flooding of streets, multi-million-dollar homes, and subway tunnels in Manhattan after 12 1/2 foot storm surges pushed the East River to overflow its banks. For the first time in almost 27 years, the New Jersey electronic exchanges had to close its doors for two days.
The devastating force of the storm made the government realize the importance of preparing shoreline defenses along the New Jersey and New York City coasts to address the fact that powerful storms are in the region’s future because of climate change.
Mississippi River Floods – $2 Billion
The Mississippi River floods during April and May 2011 were among the most damaging reported in the U.S. in recent years, only comparable to the major floods of 1927 and 1993. It was considered a 500-year flood, caused by two storms that deposited record levels of rainfall on the Mississippi River. When that additional water combined with the melting snow, the river and many of its tributaries began to swell. Areas along the Mississippi itself experienced flooding included Kentucky, Illinois, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Louisiana.