WebinarDecember 14, 2020

Workshop: Billion Dollar Disasters & Climate Change

Workshop: Billion Dollar Disasters & Climate Change


Climate Central and the International Association of Emergency Managers held an online workshop on December 10, 2020 to discuss weather-related disasters that continue to intensify and devastate many of our communities. We also discussed reporting and focusing attention on long-term recovery efforts. Main points covered include:

  • 2020 is the sixth year in a row in which the United States has been impacted by 10 or more billion-dollar disaster events. Climate change is amplifying extreme weather events, while urban growth in dangerous areas and other factors are exacerbating their impacts. 

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed systemic vulnerabilities in American disaster response and health systems.

  • Physical and mental health, economic and housing stability, and social role adaptation are important factors to look at when measuring recovery in a community after a disaster. 

  • The worst mental health impacts from a disaster can occur three years after an event, long after federal support for recoveries has dried up.

  • Federal disaster recovery efforts are centered around homeownership, property and political capital, often leaving behind marginalized and lower income communities.

  • Acknowledging that systemic and historical structural racism plays a role in our current emergency management disaster response was suggested as a first step in moving equitably toward climate adaptation.

  • Advice for reporters included centering their reporting in a community, humanizing disaster events, paying for interpreters and continuing to report on the after-effects of a disaster long after the national news outlets have forgotten about it.



  • Adam Smith, Applied Climatologist, Center for Weather and Climate, National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) 

  • Jessica Whitehead, Ph.D., Chief Resilience Officer, North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency 

  • Monica Sanders, J.D., LL.M, Associate Professor, Univ. Delaware, Faculty Georgetown Emergency Management Program Twitter: @Monica_DRRProf

  • David Abramson, Ph.D., Clinical Associate Professor at NYU’s School of Global Public Health and the director of the research program on Population Impact, Recovery and Resilience (PiR2). david.abramson@nyu.edu

  • A.R. Siders, JD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Disaster Research Center, Biden School of Public Policy, University of Delaware Twitter: @sidersadapts

  • Victoria Bouloubasis, Journalist and filmmaker, North Carolina at Enlace Latino NC  Twitter: @thisfeedsme

  • Andrew Revkin, Director, Initiative on Communication and Sustainability, The Earth Institute, Columbia University. ar667@columbia.edu Twitter: @revkin

Climate Central Resources





Other Resources