Sustainability Climate Change

The states most affected by natural disasters

Mississippi and Louisiana have had the costliest natural disasters, racking up at least $1 billion in damages since 1980. Maine and Alaska have experienced the lowest monetary damages from climate disasters.
Beachgoers survey the damage Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Daytona Beach Shores, Fla., as hotel and condo seawalls and pool decks along the Volusia County coastline were gutted by Hurricane Ian last week. Joe Burbank/ AP

Story at a glance


  • Wallet Hub analyzed all 50 states to understand which historically have been affected the most by natural disasters. 

  • Since 1980, states concentrated in the South, like Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, have had the most climate disasters, causing at least $1 billion in damages.

  • This year, climate disasters have already surpassed $1 billion in damage, with Hurricane Ian causing as much as $57 billion in damage to Florida and South Carolina. 

Natural disasters are happening more frequently and with more intensity around the country, but some Americans are more exposed to natural disasters — and their costly effects — than others.  

A new WalletHub study analyzed 50 states for the number of climate disasters causing $1 billion or more in damages between 1980 and 2022, along with the amount of loss from climate disasters causing $1 billion or more in damage per capita.  

From wildfires to tornadoes and hurricanes, natural disasters have already surpassed $1 billion in damage in 2022 — with the latest Hurricane Ian causing as much as $57 billion in damage to Florida and South Carolina. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that in 2021 damages from flooding, severe storms and wildfires climbed to about $145 billion — making it the third costliest year on record, behind 2017 and 2005. 


 
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The cost of rebuilding communities after natural disasters strike is not only costly, but it also carries economic risks. Entire industries that contribute to the U.S. economy must also rebuild and readjust, including farmers who end up struggling to maintain their fields and adapt to changing weather conditions — causing consumer prices to rise. 

Here are the top five states WalletHub found to be most affected by natural disasters since 1980: 

1. Mississippi 

The state of Mississippi has had seven climate disasters causing at least $1 billion in damages. The state was hit by a Category 4 hurricane last year, known as Hurricane Ida, as well as Hurricane Katrina in 2005. 

2. Louisiana 

The state of Louisiana has had 11 climate disasters causing at least $1 billion damages since 1980. It was most famously hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 — considered the costliest tropical cyclone to hit the U.S. — and was responsible for about 1,800 fatalities.  

3. Texas 

The state of Texas has had one climate disaster that has caused more than $1 billion in damages —Hurricane Harvey. It hit the state in 2017 and cost the U.S. about $149 billion, considered the second costliest tropical cyclone.  

4. Iowa 

The only Midwestern state to land in the top five, Iowa has had 22 climate disasters that have caused at least $1 billion in damages. The state has endured more frequent and intense rain, flooding, droughts and extreme heat. In 2019, Iowa was hit with record-breaking flooding and in 2012 suffered an extreme drought. 

5. Alabama 

The state of Alabama has had one climate disaster causing more than $1 billion in damage since 1980, known as the “storm of the century” in 1993. The state endured a record-breaking snowstorm that covered every square inch of the state and caused widespread power outages. Fourteen people died and an estimated $50 million was caused in damage.