Source: Red Cross.org, NOAA.gov | Image: Courtesy of Alert Systems Group

Source: Red Cross.org, NOAA.gov | Image: Courtesy of Alert Systems Group

In 2017, the United States experienced an alarming series of natural disasters. In less than a month, hurricanes wreaked havoc in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Throughout the fall, California suffered nearly perpetual wildfires. Significant social, economic, and environmental consequences will be felt into 2018 and far beyond.

Hundreds died. Thousands of homes and other structures were destroyed. In late September, Moody’s Analytics estimated that Hurricanes Irma and Harvey caused more than $150 billion in damage, and estimated damage from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, could run as high as $95 billion. In October, CoreLogic, a leading provider of consumer, financial and property information to business and government, released a hazard risk analysis explaining the total number of homes at risk for damages due to the California wildfires, along with the combined reconstruction cost value estimates, could be as high as $65 billion.

American Red Cross and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data used in the map shown above highlight that nearly the entire United States is subject to one or more risks. Although specific occurrences are largely unpredictable, exposure to these risks is predictable. And we must be better prepared!

Architects and the AIA have many reasons to take pride in our response to the events of 2017.