Pulling Our Heads Out of Sandy: Katrina Recovery Czar Says It’s Time to Learn From Our Mistakes


How many more lives will be lost and how much damage does it take for us to realize that Sandy was part of a continuing menacing pattern of extreme weather events that are here to stay? In 2005 it was Katrina, last year Irene and now Sandy. But around the world, extreme weather has crippled nations and destroyed property since 2000. You may think this has been going on forever, since the time of Noah, but this destruction has been escalating with more damage every year than any similar span in recorded history.

Insurance losses in the U.S. averaged $9 billion in the 1980s. Katrina alone cost nearly $100 billion with an average of nearly $40 billion a year for the 2000 decade. If we include Japan the destruction to the globe in the last couple of years is unparalleled. Is this global warming or something else? No matter what the cause there is a clear pattern of severe weather causing catastrophic human losses. This pattern, according to the National Research Council, is going to continue. We have to do more than hope it won’t happen here (wherever, here is). The data indicates that a disaster is coming to you, or near you, in the near future if you live in an urbanized coastal area. More than 60 percent of all Americans do.