UN: 2011 Disasters Costliest In History With Minimum Price Tag Of $380 billion

First Posted: 03/ 5/2012 12:30 pm Updated: 03/11/2012 11:08 am

The economic cost of disasters in 2011 was the highest in history — costing at least $380 billion, mainly due to earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, a U.N. envoy said Monday.

Margareta Wahlstrom, the secretary-general's special representative for disaster risk reduction, said the figure was two-thirds higher than the previous record in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck the southern United States.

In addition to the earthquakes, Wahlstrom said major floods in Thailand and other countries caused extensive damage.

Despite the rising costs, she said, deaths from disasters are proportionally declining because countries are getting much better at instituting early warning systems and preparedness measures.

Survivors In Ishinomaki, Japan Speak:
Junko Shinagawa
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Age: 76 years old
Profession: Clothing shop manager

On the Government Response: There wasn't enough planning by the government, but that couldn't be helped, I guess.

On What Was Learned: The most important thing is knowing how to get to a high place. Also, not believing such a big tsunami could happen is dangerous - I mean, underestimating the power of nature.

On How The Elderly Are Coping: It's been difficult for older people because of the cold, and also because climbing the stairs and other basic things can be tough for them.
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Filed by Christian Cotroneo  |