Millions of Americans displaced by natural disasters in 2022

The data comes from a survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Debris from local businesses covers the street in Selma, Ala., Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, after a tornado passed through the area. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

More than 3 million Americans were temporarily displaced from their homes by floods, hurricanes or other natural disasters that struck the United States in 2022.

A new survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau shows about a third of those displaced by extreme weather events lived in Florida, where Hurricanes Ian and Nicole caused billions of dollars in damage in September and November.

An estimated 7% of the state’s residents, almost a million people, were at least temporarily displaced from their homes, according to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

Hurricane Ian, which made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane near Cayo Costa, cost 152 lives and an estimated $113 billion in damages, according to data from the National Centers for Environmental Information at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Hurricane Nicole claimed five lives in November, and caused $1 billion in damages.

An estimated 410,000 people were displaced from their homes in Louisiana, a total of 15% of the state’s entire population last year. Severe weather events and tornado outbreaks in March and April tore through Southern states, forcing evacuations and causing billions in damages to homes and businesses.

More than 380,000 people were displaced in Texas and another 250,000 were displaced in California. An extreme drought and heat wave sweeping the West caused more than 100 deaths in Western states, and estimated costs to agricultural crops of more than $22 billion.

Smaller states in the Midwest and New England were least likely to see residents displaced. Just over a thousand people were displaced from their homes in North Dakota, and fewer than 2,000 were forced out in Vermont, Maine and Washington, D.C. In each of those four places, the displaced population amounted to less than 0.5% of the total number of residents.

A report by the National Centers for Environmental Information released this week found natural disasters cost the United States at least $165 billion last year. The NCEI said final cost figures may rise when the agency is able to account for winter storms that hit the country in the final weeks of the year, snarling flights and traffic over the Christmas holiday.

The preliminary figures are already the third-highest annual total behind 2005, the year Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit New Orleans; and 2017, when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Hurricane Irma slammed the Florida Keys and the U.S. Virgin Islands; and wildfires burned nearly 10 million acres.

At least 18 separate weather and climate disasters that hit the United States last year cost more than $1 billion. Half of those events were attributed to severe weather or hail events, including a derecho in the central United States. At least 474 people died, directly or indirectly, from those disasters.

Historical data show natural disasters are becoming both more common and more expensive, NCEI wrote in its annual report out this week.

Last year marked the eighth consecutive year in which 10 or more separate billion-dollar disasters struck the United States. In the last five years, an average of 17.8 such billion-dollar events have hit the country; since 1980, the average stood at just 7.9 billion-dollar events.