From Florence to Matthew to Michael, hurricanes and other severe weather events no longer are all that unusual in North Carolina.


What You Need To Know

Financial cost of major severe weather events in United States has soared

FEMA has received more money to combat increasing severe weather


“Climate change is making for a warmer and wetter system in North Carolina that’s really leading to both more frequent and more intense storms,” Environmental Defense Fund Project Manager Michelle Allen said.

And that’s taking a financial toll.

In the 1980s, according to NOAA, the United States averaged around $18 billion a year in costs associated with major weather events. From 2017-2020 the annual tab has soared to $81 billion.

In North Carolina, the costs, adjusted for inflation, surged from $590 million in 1980 to $1.7 billion last year.


“The financial toll is huge,” Allen said.

Allen said climate change is driving more frequent and stronger storms, and it will only get worse.

“Without urgent action to really limit our climate warming pollution ... those consequences are only going to get more severe,” Allen said.

One town hit hard financially is Fort Bluff, North Carolina.

The town of less than a thousand people was pummeled by Hurricane Matthew in 2016, then hit a second time by Florence in 2018.

Since the storms, the mayor says nearly half the town’s population has left, and financially the town is barely keeping its head above the water.

Local and state governments get federal support, but it often doesn’t come quickly.

Just last month President Joe Biden approved nearly $3.5 billion in FEMA grants for mitigation projects to reduce the effects of climate change.

But with severe weather outbreaks becoming more and more frequent, the costs for governments, businesses and homeowners are only going to go up.