JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The nation had the most costly natural disasters in 2017, mainly because of hurricanes and wildfires, both of which impacted the First Coast.
Between Hurricane Irma and the 140,000 acre wildfire in the Okefenokee swamp, our area shared in the costly financial pie that represented $306.2 billion in total natural disaster damage across the United States in 2017.
This figure shatters the previous 2005 U.S. record of $214.8 billion due to the impacts of Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma.
In total, 16 events that caused more than $1 billion in damage each but the bulk of the expense came from hurricanes totaling $265 billion.
Getting hurricane shelters ready during Irma cost Duval County Schools $1,041,834. Generators, cots and cleaning services added up for the school board still seeking reimbursement from FEMA.
Irma was nearly double the cost of Hurricane Matthew a year earlier.
By far the biggest expense for Jacksonville was debris cleanup from Hurricane Irma.
Out of the $85 million cost to the city about $40 million of it was for hauling away storm debris.
The city is estimating it spent $15.3 million for personnel and equipment costs for emergency response operations of which it hopes FEMA will reimburse at least 75%.
Wildfires out west contributed $18 billion making 2017 the highest on record.
Other large costs came from tornadoes, droughts, flooding and other severe weather events.