‘Atlas of Disaster': NJ records more than 1 climate disaster each year
Ninety percent of U.S. counties between 2011 and 2021 experienced at least one weather event so severe that it was declared a federal climate disaster.
The rate and frequency in the Garden State was even greater during that time frame, and New Jersey has received more per capita federal storm money than nearly every other state, according to an "Atlas of Disaster" released by the group Rebuild by Design.
During the 11-year period through 2021, New Jersey recorded 13 federally declared climate disasters, the report shows. Every county in the state recorded at least five, and several counties — Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, and Morris — had at least eight.
"It never occurred to us that there is such a high occurrence of disasters throughout the United States, and so many of us are suffering," said Amy Chester, report author and managing director of Rebuild by Design.
At $157, New Jersey recorded the third highest per capita spending on climate disasters. Bergen County received the most post-disaster federal assistance in New Jersey from 2011 through 2021: over $110 million.
In the report, Ocean County is ranked as the most vulnerable county in New Jersey, based on the group's assessment of factors such as population density, health risk, and sea level.
Rebuild by Design, which was created in response to the devastation caused by Sandy in 2012, suggests that the current process by which federal disasters are declared, and money is allocated, is outdated. Funding shouldn't just go out to communities after a disaster has it, the report suggests.
"The United States needs to catch up on the current reality and rethink how to shift resources to prepare communities before there is human suffering and physical, economic, and social harm to communities," the report says.