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New Report: Northampton County Tied for Most Climate Disasters in PA from 2011-2021 | WDIY Local News

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Northampton County has been one of the hardest-hit parts of Pennsylvania when it comes to weather-related disasters. That’s according to a new report. WDIY’s Sarit Laschinsky has more.

The assessment, released by the nonprofit Rebuild by Design, found that nine climate disasters were federally declared in Pennsylvania between 2011-2021.

Out of that total, both Northampton County and Sullivan County had six disaster occurrences each – the most in Pennsylvania. Lehigh County, for comparison, endured two disasters.

Statewide, 53 out of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties had a recent disaster within the past decade, according to the report, and in total $630 million in post-disaster assistance funding was provided by the federal government.

Northampton County received over $4.97 million in federal funding for its disaster declarations including over $1 million each for Hurricane Irene, Hurricane Sandy, and severe winter storms and snowstorms in 2016.

Lehigh County received around $2.4 million in disaster assistance between 2011-2021, largely for the 2016 snowstorms (around $1.8 million) as well as around $606,000 for Hurricane Irene.

The report, which only identifies federally-declared disasters, is part of Rebuild by Design’s larger “Atlas of Disaster,” which covers all 50 states.

The national report says that over the last decade, 90% of U.S. counties experienced a federal climate disaster, which affected over 300 million people, and that 20 separate billion-dollar incidents happened in 2021 alone.

To combat future climate disasters and additional losses, the report suggests that additional financing and funding be put toward more resilient projects that have multiple benefits, with a focus on climate adaptation and hazard mitigation, among other steps.

Rebuild by Design was started by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in partnership with nonprofits and the philanthropic sector, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, with the goal of improving communities’ resilience, preparedness and response to disasters.

The full "Atlas of Disaster" report can be found here.

(Original air-date: 11/29/22)

Sarit "Siri" Laschinsky is WDIY's News and Public Affairs Director.
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