Victimization by Natural Hazards in the United States, 1970-1980: Survey Estimates

November 1983 (VOL. 1, NO. 3)

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Estimates of average annual damages and personal injuries over the period 1970-1980 to households in the United States from each of five hazards--household fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes--are derived from national sample surveys. The annual incidence rate for the four natural hazards combined a 18.7 per 1,000 households, or approximately 1.5 million household annually experiencing one or more incidents of floods, hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes. Average annual damages from the same hazards reported by the households amount to U.S. $6.1 billion (in 1980 dollars). Analyses of aid received in the forms of insurance payments, gifts, grants and loans show that floods present the most serious problems to households when experienced, not only causing more damage but also more likely not to be covered by insurance and more likely to lead the household into enlarging its debt burden. No substantively significant biases were found in the distribution aid to households afflicted by natural hazards.