Natural disasters, fires, explosions, terrorist incidents – these all cause horrendous loss of life and injuries. They also cause huge amounts of property damage, leaving the property owners to clean up the ruins, try to put their lives and businesses back together, and rebuild. Their insurance companies bear much of the cost.
For property owners, the events on the following list were the ten worst catastrophes in the United States as of June 2016. The dollar amounts are insured property losses, adjusted for inflation to reflect 2014 prices, and not including losses paid by the National Flood Insurance Program.
10. In April 2011, 355 tornadoes swept through large portions of the U.S. and southern Canada. The cities of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, Alabama were especially hard hit. In all, 348 people died and insured property damages totaled $7.652 billion.
9. Hurricane Ivan caused insured damage to the tune of $8.639 billion when it hit Florida and Texas in September 2004. 54 Americans were killed. More damages and fatalities occurred in Carribean and South American countries.
8. A month before Ivan, Hurricane Charley did more than $9 billion in damage in Florida and the Carolinas. 80 percent of the buildings in Charlotte County, Florida were destroyed, include one-third of the schools.
7. Hurricane Wilma in October 2005 would have been the worst storm in any other year. It hit Florida late that month and caused $12.125 billion in damage.
6. Hurricane Ike in September 2008 left $13.6 billion in damage in Texas and Louisiana. Fatalities totaled 112. The emergency closure of Texas oil refineries also caused a jump in fuel prices.
5. A massive earthquake struck the greater Los Angeles area in January 1994. The 6.7 magnitude quake killed 57, injured more than 8,000, and caused $18.3 billion in damage.
4. Hurricane Sandy hit the eastern U.S. days before Halloween 2012. When it was over, 160 people were dead, thousands were homeless, and millions were without electrical power. Insured damages were $19.3 billion.
3. Hurricane Andrew devastated Florida and Louisiana in August 1992. It destroyed more than 25,000 homes in Miami-Dade County, Florida alone; another 100,000 suffered severe damage. At $23.8 billion in damage, it held the title as the most costly catastrophe in U.S. history. For nine years.
2. On September 11, 2001, terrorists seized control of four jetliners. Two aircraft struck and destroyed the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, one struck the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., and the other crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania. The worst terrorist attack on the U.S. mainland left nearly 3,000 dead, more than 6,000 wounded, and $24.3 billion in damage.
1. The most costly catastrophe in U.S. history was Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. The killer storm wrecked the Gulf Coast and also caused damage in Georgia, Kentucky and Ohio. More than 80 percent of New Orleans was flooded. Over 1,800 people died. Total insured property damage was $48.4 billion, double the cost of the September 11 attacks.