By Doyle Rice
8 January 2019
(USA TODAY) – Racking up an overall damage cost of $16.5 billion, the devastating and deadly Camp Fire that ravaged California in November was the world’s costliest natural disaster in 2018. The data come from a report issued Tuesday by Munich Re, a reinsurance firm.
In second and third place last year were Hurricanes Michael ($16 billion) and Florence ($14 billion). Florence dumped heavy rain across the Carolinas in September, and Michael tore into the Florida Panhandle in October.
Michael, which had a wind speed of 155 mph at landfall, was the fourth-strongest hurricane on record to hit the USA. It reduced the small town of Mexico Beach, Florida, to rubble.
The disastrous Camp Fire, California’s deadliest on record with 86 fatalities, stood out for its ferocity: “Such massive wildfires appear to be occurring more frequently as a result of climate change,” said Munich Re’s Torsten Jeworrek. “Action is urgently needed on building codes and land use to help prevent losses.”
Thousands of homes and cars were gutted by fire; the town of Paradise was almost entirely destroyed. [more]
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