Hurricanes: The $50 billion price tag
New figures: Hurricanes cost taxpayers over $50 billion in the last five years.
When a major hurricane hits the United States, the U.S. Treasury also takes a hit. When it comes to disaster expenses, nothing -- not even 9/11 or the Northridge Earthquake -- rivals the costs of hurricanes.
Fresh figures from the Federal Emergency Management Agency this morning underscore the dominance of the hurricane.
For the last five fiscal years -- Oct. 1, 2004, through Sept. 30, 2009 -- the agency has committed $60.9 billion to in disaster money. Of that, $50.1 billion has been the result of hurricanes. That's 82 percent, and it doesn't include tropical storms or storm remnants, just hurricanes.
That figure has a lot do with Katrina and the incredible 2005 season, and quiet seasons can make all the difference in shelling out disaster money.
For 2007, for example, FEMA didn't have to spend a dime on hurricanes, and the total annual disaster bill was a mere $2.5 billion.
For the tranquil 2009 season, FEMA has committed a mere $13.3 million for hurricanes, and $2.3 billion overall.
If this season doesn't turn out to be another costly one, a lot of hurricane experts are going to end up being wrong.