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Weather Talk: Hurricane deaths linked to poverty

Thumbing through the World Wide Web one evening recently, I stumbled across an on-line web article with an illuminating set of hurricane statistics. During the 50 year period 1963 through 2012, about half of the hurricane landfalls in the United States happened in Florida and Texas.

However, about half the deaths happened along the much smaller coastlines of Louisiana and Mississippi. In fact, there were about 25 times more deaths per storm in Louisiana and Mississippi, which have had much higher concentrations of people in poverty along the coast, than in Florida and Texas.

This illustrates the role of socio-economic factors in natural disasters. Following this trail, it can also be said that the ability of the people of a region to recover, economically, from a disaster, is related to wealth. Wealth, of course, is often too well related to skin color.

The original article was written by Edward Rappaport of the National Hurricane Center and it appeared in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society in 2014. 

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