Weather disasters with damages exceeding $1 billion each have hit the United States 151 times since 1980, and federal disaster declarations have increased from 65 in 2004 to 98 in 2012, according to the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO). Concern about the number of disasters—including storms, droughts, floods, and wildfires—and their cost to the economy, infrastructure, and human lives was the focus of a 12 February U.S. Senate hearing on extreme weather events and the cost of not being prepared for them. Senators and witnesses spoke about the need for resilience, preparedness, and paying up front for measures that could save money and headaches when disasters occur.
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