(NEW YORK) — The tornadoes that struck the Midwest this week, killing dozens and destroying hundreds of homes and schools in the Oklahoma City-suburb of Moore, likely caused more than $1 billion in damages.
And it’s not just tornadoes that wreak this kind of havoc. From wildfires to hurricanes, the country has suffered dozens of natural disasters that have left billions of dollars of damage in their wake.
Here’s a look at seven of the most recent well-known U.S. natural disasters that cost at least a billion dollars:
Hurricane Sandy – October 2012
The storm that destroyed beachside communities along the Eastern Seaboard killed more than 130 people and cost between $20 and $50 billion, according to a Brookings Institution estimate. No hurricane on record has been wider in terms of geographic scope.
Hurricane Irene – August 2011
The storm that devastated parts of North Carolina and the mid-Atlantic coast cost at least $10 billion and killed at least 45 people.
Joplin Tornado – May 2011
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration rates the tornado in Joplin, Mo., as the single most deadly tornado since modern record keeping began. It killed about 160 people. That tornado, along with other tornados that struck at the same time across the central and southern states, cost at least $9 billion.
Mississippi River Flooding – May 2011
Higher-than-normal rainfall combined with melting snowpack resulted in deadly flooding that destroyed crops and homes from Arkansas to Missouri. The flooding cost $3 billion and killed at least seven people.
New Mexico/Arizona Wildfires – Spring 2011
Wildfires raged across the states and scorched hundreds of thousands of acres of earth. At least five people lost their lives to the fires, which cost at least $1 billion.
Southwest Drought/Heat Wave – Spring/Summer 2011
Extended drought conditions and unwavering heat destroyed crops across the southern states. A majority of range and pastures in Texas and Oklahoma were classified “very poor” during much of that year’s growing season. Nearly 100 people died as a result of the drought and heat. The total cost was about $12 billion.
Hurricane Katrina – August 2005
The country’s most costly natural disaster destroyed parts of New Orleans after the levee system there failed, and left thousands of people without a place to stay for months. The hurricane cost at least $125 billion and killed more than 1,800 people.
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Adam Forsgren, EastIdahoNews.com Columnist