This brief introduces the disaster reporting system in the United States administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and gives a quantitative summary of disaster experiences extending back to the 1950s. The brief highlights changes in the prevalence of wildfires, both their annual numbers and their place in the overall disaster reporting system. The analysis includes a summary of the losses from major disasters, both in data from FEMA and in data on billion-dollar disasters published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NOAA data are summarized in the aggregate and for seven categories of disasters. Hurricanes dominate the economic loss statistics, accounting for about one in six major disasters but about half of total losses from disasters. Finally, the brief summarizes losses from major disasters in 2017 and 2018.
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