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natural disasters UK
natural disasters and extreme weather
natural disasters > insurers USA
act of God
landslide / mudslide
death toll USA
This pair of photographs shows the same location
on a street
in Miyako, Iwate Prefecture, Japan
on two different dates,
March 11, 2011 and February 17, 2012.
The first photograph shows the area today,
and the second shows a tsunami wave crashing
into the street after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake.
Miyako City Office/Handout/Reuters and Toru Hanai/Reuters
Boston Globe > Big Picture
Japan tsunami pictures: before
March 7, 2012
An Indian man cries
as he holds the hand of his eight-year-old son,
who was killed in a tsunami
in Cuddalore, southern India, December 27, 2004.
The death toll in a tsunami
that slammed into coasts from India to Indonesia
as rescuers scoured the sea for missing tourists
and fears of disease grew
as soldiers raced to recover rotting bodies.
Photo by Arko Datta/Reuters
Corpses Piled on Asian Coasts After Tsunami Kills 23,2004
Mon Dec 27, 2004 02:18 PM ET
tsunami UK / USA
Japan's 2011 tsunami, then and now - in pictures
Ten years ago
one of the most powerful earthquakes on record
triggered a devastating tsunami in Japan,
killing more than 18,000 people
and triggering catastrophic meltdowns
at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Then and now photographs
show the extent of the destruction
and the enormity of the reconstruction work
Japan tsunami pictures: before and after
March 7, 2012
In this first of three Big Picture posts
on the anniversary
of the Japan earthquake-tsunami-nuclear disaster,
we have a series of paired "then and now" pictures,
with the first image taken recently paired
with a picture from the same vantage
taken during or in the immediate aftermath
of the tragedy.
33 feet high
massive tidal wave
the surge of water
killer wall of water
by a 9.0-magnitude undersea earthquake
off the Indonesian island of Sumatra
swirling ocean swells
the quake's epicenter
at the epicenter
sweep across N
the shorelines of Asia and East Africa
coastal Thailand and Sri Lanka
towns ravaged by the waves
death toll UK
dead are put at 57,000
4,000 people missing
tens of thousands still unaccounted for
the seismological bureau of the country's
the tectonic plates beneath the ocean
the use of outdoor toilets
create breeding grounds for germs
the largest relief effort in history
tectonic plate UK
the Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean region
the giant Burma and Indian tectonic plates
a massive 8.7 magnitude earthquake
ocean / sea floor
Corpus of news articles
Earth > Natural disasters
Packed With Weather Disasters
Brought Economic Toll to Match
The New York Times
By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE
this year has not only been lousy, it has been as destructive in terms of
economic loss as any on record.
Normally, three or four weather disasters a year in the United States will cause
at least $1 billion in damages each. This year, there were nine such disasters.
They included the huge snow dump in late January and early February on the
Midwest and Northeast, the rash of tornadoes this spring across the Midwest and
the more recent flooding of the Missouri and Souris Rivers. The disasters were
responsible for at least 589 deaths, including 160 in May when tornadoes ripped
through Joplin, Mo.
These nine billion-dollar disasters tie the record set in 2008, according to a
report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The total damage
done by all storms, tornadoes, flooding and heat waves so far this year adds up
to about $35 billion. The National Climatic Data Center says it estimates the
costs in terms of dollars and lives that would not have been incurred had the
event not taken place. Insured and uninsured losses are included in damage
estimates and are likely to change as assessments become more complete. With
four months to go in 2011, this year’s total amount of damage is likely to rise.
Forecasters are already predicting further meteorological mayhem as hurricane
Over the last 30 years, there have been about 108 natural disasters that have
caused $1 billion in damages each, according to NOAA. The total damage from all
natural disasters since 1980 is about $750 billion.
“The increasing impacts of natural disasters, as seen this year, are a stark
reminder of the lives and livelihoods at risk,” Jack Hayes, director of NOAA’s
National Weather Service, said in a statement.
Part of the problem is that more people are living in high-risk areas, NOAA
said. This makes them “increasingly vulnerable to severe weather events, such as
tornado outbreaks, intense heat waves, flooding, active hurricane seasons, and
solar storms that threaten electrical and communication systems,” the statement
NOAA, along with other private and public agencies, is taking several steps to
try to make the nation more “weather ready,” including making more precise
forecasts, improving the ability to alert local authorities about risks and
developing specialized mobile-ready emergency response teams.
The National Weather Service is also planning several test projects involving
emergency response and ecological forecasting. Test projects are to start soon
at strategic locations in the mid-Atlantic region, on the Gulf Coast and
elsewhere in the South. They include improvements to a system in Charleston,
W.Va., for alerts three hours ahead of severe weather instead of the current
The nine weather events that have caused at least $1 billion in damages so far
this year are:
¶Central/East Groundhog Day blizzard (Jan. 29-Feb. 3). This storm was tied to 36
deaths. The losses exceeded $2 billion.
¶Midwest/Southeast tornadoes (April 4-5). Nine people were killed. Total losses
were more than $2 billion.
¶Southeast/Midwest tornadoes (April 8-11). Resulted in more than $2 billion in
¶Midwest/Southeast tornadoes (April 14-16). Caused 38 deaths. Total losses are
more than $2 billion.
¶Southeast/Ohio Valley/Midwest tornadoes (April 25-30). Caused 327 deaths.
Losses total more than $9 billion.
¶Midwest/Southeast tornadoes (May 22-27). Caused 177 deaths. Total losses are
more than $7 billion.
¶Southern Plains/Southwest drought, heat waves, wildfires. Direct losses are
more than $5 billion.
¶Mississippi River flooding. At least two deaths and losses ranging from $2
billion to $4 billion.
¶Upper Midwest flooding. Losses estimated at $2 billion.
Year Packed With Weather Disasters
Has Brought Economic
Toll to Match,
of Natural Disasters,
Insurers Brace for Big Losses
The New York Times
By CHRISTINE HAUSER
devastation from the natural disasters that have ripped through parts of the
country this year has been starkly evident. Hundreds of people have died and
thousands of houses have been shattered in a deadly string of tornadoes.
Millions of acres of farms were inundated and businesses shut down by flooding
along the Mississippi River.
Now, as homes are repaired, fields are pumped and factories are cleaned out, the
damage assessments will mount, and another measure of the impact will come into
clearer focus: the cost to insurance companies.
Based on nearly two dozen interviews with farmers, business owners, analysts and
government officials, private insurance companies are likely to experience at
least $10 billion in insured losses this year, mostly associated with the
tornadoes and the flooding along the Mississippi, based on property damage, lost
inventory, business interruption and disrupted crop plantings.
Insurance industry and risk analysis experts arrived at their projections by
adding median damage estimates for the worst of the tornadoes so far. The tally
will rise when private-sector insurance flood and crop claims associated with
the Mississippi River flooding are tacked on and hundreds of other tornadoes and
severe winter weather events are factored in.
“Natural catastrophe losses in the United States are likely to be well over $10
billion by the end of 2011,” said David Smith, the senior vice president of
Eqecat Inc., a catastrophe risk modeling firm. And Robert P. Hartwig, president
of the Insurance Information Institute, said that just one “relatively minor”
hurricane this year could push the total private insurance catastrophe losses in
2011 above the $13.6 billion paid out in 2010.
Whatever the numbers prove to be, analysts acknowledge that the geographic and
economic range of damage is vast. Farmland is still submerged, meaning farmers
must wait until the water fully recedes to determine whether the soil is fit to
replant. Damage assessment teams are still fanning out in tornado zones,
surveying the destruction.
And there is also uncertainty about what insurance policies will cover, a
question recently on the mind of Austin Golding, a 25-year-old manager in his
family’s barge business in Vicksburg, Miss. Like other business owners along the
Mississippi, Mr. Golding took pre-emptive measures when the river started to
rise, moving equipment and staff members to portable trailers on higher ground
and putting the main office on blocks, a costly operation that he said saved the
insured building from water damage.
“I think we are probably going to try to recoup what we spent in trying to avoid
a total replacement” of the building, Mr. Golding said. He added that they would
at least try to negotiate a decrease in the premium.
The Mississippi River areas that were flooded include two million to more than
three million acres of farmland and pasture, said Michael Cordonnier, a
consultant with the Soybean and Corn Advisor, an information service for the
commodity industry. Houses, ports, casinos, hotels, grain elevators,
infrastructure, fisheries and other facilities are among the sources expected to
generate claims from damages.
In addition to the flooding, some of the worst tornadoes in decades have struck
this year. As of Wednesday, there have been at least 518 fatalities from
tornadoes in the United States, just behind the 519 in 1953, the highest number
since official record-keeping started in 1950, said Gregory Carbin, a National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meteorologist.
Just the tornadoes that affected Alabama and neighboring states in the last week
of April, and Joplin, Mo., in May, could produce insured losses of $4.5 billion
to $8 billion, said Mr. Hartwig of the insurance institute. Eqecat Inc.
estimated insured losses at $2 billion to $5 billion in the April week and $1
billion to $3 billion for Joplin. AIR Worldwide, a risk modeling and consulting
firm, said it estimated $3.7 billion to $5.5 billion in insured losses for
tornadoes and other severe weather events, including Alabama’s, in just one
week: April 22 to 28.
Catastrophes are defined in the industry as any single event with $25 million or
more in insured losses. The biggest catastrophe to hit the industry’s insurers
was Hurricane Katrina, which generated $45 billion, adjusted for inflation, in
insured losses for houses, businesses and vehicles.
While many in the industry, and those clearing out their homes or pumping out
businesses, say it is too early to put a figure on the damage, private insurance
companies will not be alone in bearing the cost.
The government will cover most of the losses related to flooding for insured
homes and small businesses through the National Flood Insurance Program.
Officials said the flood insurance program was already $17.7 billion in debt to
the Treasury Department, mostly because of Katrina. They added, however, that
the program still had $668 million in cash reserves as of April 30 and the
ability to borrow nearly $3 billion more from the department if needed to cover
this year’s claims.
Farmers Insurance, which is one of at least 90 private insurance companies that
pays out the flood claims losses using the flood insurance program’s funds, has
received about 300 claims for flood losses as of May 30, said Jeffery W.
Hinesly, a manager of the program for the company. He said that each claim
averaged $20,000 to $30,000 for property damage. “I do not expect much more than
the 300 because many do not own flood insurance,” he said. The major loss
exposure that private insurance companies will have using their own funds for
flood losses is for automobile insurance, which is not covered by the flood
insurance program, he added.
For crop insurance, the government’s Risk Management Agency shares the payments
for losses with the 15 private insurance companies that it regulates. William J.
Murphy, the administrator of the agency, said he expected crop-related losses
from Missouri south through the Mississippi River basin to be in the $700
million to $800 million range. The amount paid by the private companies depends
on individual contracts with farmers, but it is expected to be in the hundreds
of millions of dollars.
“We are waiting to see the extent of the losses down there,” Mr. Murphy said.
Meanwhile, along the river and in tornado-wrenched towns, residents, farmers and
business owners are struggling to adapt.
Bobby W. Armstrong, 79, and his wife, Barbara, moved into a Days Inn in Joplin
after their three-bedroom home was damaged, but they considered themselves
fortunate that it was not destroyed.
“We heard sirens going and so we went into the hallways and sat down next to the
linen closet and huddled up there on the floor,” said Mr. Armstrong, a Marine
Corps veteran. He said a “wild guess” was that the house needed a new roof,
siding, gutters and other repairs, but they had yet to see a claims adjuster.
“We have turned in the report on it, and it will take time before they get out,”
Farmers, too, must wait, and with commodity prices at recent highs, the delays
can be costly. The floods wiped out investments in fertilizer, labor and seeds.
Crop insurance might cover only 50 to 75 percent of the value, depending on
average historical yields. In addition, there are seasonal issues. It is too
late to replant corn, but soybeans may still take root if the topsoil is in
John Michael Pillow, a 41-year-old farmer in Yazoo County, Miss., watched in
dismay when the river spilled over onto his insured farmland, destroying about
3,000 of the 4,000 acres of corn he had already planted.
“I am really hoping we can plant soybeans,” he added, “so we will be able to get
out of this year without a complete loss.”
In Wake of Natural Disasters, Insurers Brace for Big
Related > Anglonautes >
disaster > Fukushima - 2011
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