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Lack Of Data On State Spending For Natural Disasters Could Be Costly

U.S. Air Force

A new report from The PEW Charitable Trusts said most states aren’t tracking how much they spend overall to deal with natural disasters.  

2017 was a rough year for the U.S. when it came to natural disasters - from record-breaking wildfires to historic hurricanes. But according to Anne Stauffer with PEW many states that dealt with a natural disaster didn’t know their total bill.  

"You can't manage what you don't track, which is why we’re recommending that states track this data and understand their spending," said Stauffer.

The amount of money the federal government puts aside for natural disasters often depends on how much states say they've had to spend.

Because of that, Stauffer said states need to tally up all their costs from mitigation to preparedness to responding to the actual event and its aftermath.

"We've heard from many states that it's often not just one quote-unquote disaster," said Stauffer. "There are floods that follow wildfires. There are other events that follow floods."

The report recommends that both state and federal policymakers make collecting comprehensive data a priority.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Maggie Mullen is Wyoming Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. Her work has aired on NPR, Marketplace, Science Friday, and Here and Now. She was awarded a 2019 regional Edward R. Murrow Award for her story on the Black 14.
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