In the late summer of 2005, the remarkable flooding brought by Hurricane Katrina, which caused more than $200 billion in losses, constituted the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. However, even in typical years, flooding causes billions of dollars in damage and threatens lives and property in every State.
Natural processes, such as hurricanes, weather systems, and snowmelt, can cause floods. Failure of levees and dams and inadequate drainage in urban areas can also result in flooding. On average, floods kill about 140 people each year and cause $6 billion in property damage.
Although loss of life to floods during the past half-century has declined, mostly because of improved warning systems, economic losses have continued to rise due to increased urbanization and coastal development.