3.4 Million Adults in U.S. Were Displaced by Extreme Weather Last Year: Census Bureau Survey

A flooded mobile home park in St. Cloud, Florida, after Hurricane Ian
A flooded mobile home park in St. Cloud, Florida, after Hurricane Ian, on Oct. 4, 2022. Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images
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About 3.4 million adults in the U.S. (1.4% of the adult population) were displaced from their homes by extreme weather disasters in 2022, a new survey from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals.

Those findings, based on the 68,500 responses to the Bureau’s Jan. 4-16 Household Pulse Survey , are far higher than figures from the International Displacement Monitoring Centre, which estimates an average of 800,000 U.S. residents were displaced annually from 2008 through 2021, including the 1.7 million people the Centre estimates were displaced in 2017 when Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria all rocked the country.

About half of those displaced in 2022 were forced to leave their homes due to hurricanes. While about 40% of those displaced returned home within a week, about 12% were displaced for more than six months and roughly 16% never returned home. The portion of people with disabilities permanently displaced by disasters is far higher.

The Census survey also found low-income households (under $25,000 per year) were forced to evacuate at twice the rate as the general population, and 4% of LGBT people were forced to evacuate, compared to 1.2% of cisgender, straight people.

As reported by E&E News:

The Census Bureau’s data shows that people were displaced by disasters in every state in 2022, including 29 states that did not have a major disaster involving FEMA.

In Louisiana, 11 percent of the state’s adults — nearly 370,000 people — were displaced due to a disaster in 2022. That is by far the highest rate of any state and well ahead of second-place Florida, where 5 percent of adults were displaced.

Louisiana did not experience a major disaster in 2022, although large parts of the state remain damaged by Hurricane Laura in 2020 and Hurricane Ida in 2021. Florida was devastated in 2022 by Hurricane Ian, one of the most destructive storms in U.S. history.

For a deeper dive:

E&E News; Climate Signals background: 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, 2022 Western wildfire season, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria

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