20 photos that show how US towns still haven't recovered from devastating hurricanes that took place months or years ago

Business Insider Lifestyle 2 months ago

Hurricanes are awful — they can bring storm surges, flooding, illness, property destruction, environmental degradation, and diaspora. As we've seen firsthand through the lens of Dorian this month, climate change is only going to worsen the damage as the years progress.

And a Wall Street Journal analysis found they are getting costlier and costlier. Harvey, Maria, and Irma in 2017 cost $268 billion combined — 31% of the full cost of all hurricane damage in the US since 1980.

September 10 marked the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs between June and the end of November.

But hurricanes can be scary for reasons outside of frightening flooding or deafening wind — their impacts can take a toll on communities for months, if not years. Survivors of hurricanes over the past two years have also struggled from a lack and delay of federal relief funding, scandals getting their electricity back on, and slow initiatives to get back into their homes.

Even if recovery happens — sometimes another hurricane seems to be lurking around the corner, as Dorian hit a similar track as Florence and other recent hurricanes.

Here's what recovery from five recent hurricanes — Michael and Florence in 2018, and Maria, Irma, and Harvey in 2017 — looks like on the ground.

Hurricane Michael hit the Florida panhandle in October 2018. The rural coastal region is still struggling to find a way forward amid dwindling revenue and heightened relief costs. Here, debris are removed seven months after the storm hit.

Hurricane Michael hit the Florida panhandle in October 2018. The rural coastal region is still struggling to find a way forward amid dwindling revenue and heightened relief costs. Here, debris are removed seven months after the storm hit.
Debris being removed from the El Governor Hotel in Mexico Beach, Fla. on May 6, 2019.

Hurricane Michael was the first Category 5 storm to make landfall in the continental US since Andrew hit in 1992. Only four Category 5 hurricanes have hit the mainland US in recorded history. Here, a crew digs out a canal in Florida in May 2019.

Hurricane Michael was the first Category 5 storm to make landfall in the continental US since Andrew hit in 1992. Only four Category 5 hurricanes have hit the mainland US in recorded history. Here, a crew digs out a canal in Florida in May 2019.
A water salvage crew digs out a canal in Mexico Beach, Fla. in May 2019, months after the hurricane hit in 2018.

Across the entire United States, Michael caused 16 deaths and an estimated $25 billion in damage. This month, nearly $3 billion in federal aid is finally available for farmers. These before and after photos show a house in Panama City, Florida, right after the storm and seven months later.

Across the entire United States, Michael caused 16 deaths and an estimated $25 billion in damage. This month, nearly $3 billion in federal aid is finally available for farmers. These before and after photos show a house in Panama City, Florida, right after the storm and seven months later.
A damaged home right after Michael, and again months later in May 2019.

Florida insurers reported nearly $7 billion in property losses with nearly 150,000 claims after Michael. This August, 14% of the claims were still open. This aerial shot shows Mexico Beach, Florida, right after the storm and again in May.

Florida insurers reported nearly $7 billion in property losses with nearly 150,000 claims after Michael. This August, 14% of the claims were still open. This aerial shot shows Mexico Beach, Florida, right after the storm and again in May.
Mexico Beach, Fla. on October 12 right after Hurricane Michael, and months later in May 2019.

Hurricane Florence hit the Carolinas and Virginia in September 2018. The storm dumped over 35 inches of rain in Elizabethtown, North Carolina, and is considered a "1,000-year" flood due to how rare these events are. These new houses were built on pillars after the storm.

Hurricane Florence hit the Carolinas and Virginia in September 2018. The storm dumped over 35 inches of rain in Elizabethtown, North Carolina, and is considered a
New homes are being built on May 13, 2019, on pillars to avoid future flooding in Nichols, S.C., which was hit by both Hurricane Florence and Matthew.

At least 50 people died because of Florence, and damages were an estimated $22 billion. Scientists believe that sea level rise contributed to the destructiveness of the storm. These before-and-after photos show Nichols, South Carolina, in September 2018 and May 2019.

At least 50 people died because of Florence, and damages were an estimated $22 billion. Scientists believe that sea level rise contributed to the destructiveness of the storm. These before-and-after photos show Nichols, South Carolina, in September 2018 and May 2019.
A sign commemorating the rebuilding of Nichols, S.C. in the midst of Hurricane Florence, and the same location in May, 2019

North Carolina spent nearly $2.8 billion of state and federal funding to help survivors of Hurricane Florence. Small towns still struggle — in June 2019, the Jones County courthouse and jail in Trenton were still under repair.

North Carolina spent nearly $2.8 billion of state and federal funding to help survivors of Hurricane Florence. Small towns still struggle — in June 2019, the Jones County courthouse and jail in Trenton were still under repair.
The Jones County Courthouse in Trenton, N.C. is still under repair months after Hurricane Florence.

Hurricane Dorian hit a similar pattern as Florence, and some homes were still in the process of recovery by the time hurricane season came again this year.

Hurricane Dorian hit a similar pattern as Florence, and some homes were still in the process of recovery by the time hurricane season came again this year.
A North Caroline resident home is still ongoing repairs in July 2019, months after Hurricane Florence.

In September 2017, Category 4 storm Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico mere weeks after Irma. Maria killed 2,975 people on the island. Workers here repair a road to El Yunque Rainforest a year after the storm.

In September 2017, Category 4 storm Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico mere weeks after Irma. Maria killed 2,975 people on the island. Workers here repair a road to El Yunque Rainforest a year after the storm.
Workers on the road to El Yunque Rain Forest on September 19, 2018 in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, a year after the hurricane hit.

At least 1.1 million households applied for FEMA disaster aid. An estimated 250,000 homes sustained major damage and 70,000 of those were destroyed. Plastic tarps like this one, seen here on a house in September 2018, were still covering 30,000 homes when Dorian came through.

At least 1.1 million households applied for FEMA disaster aid. An estimated 250,000 homes sustained major damage and 70,000 of those were destroyed. Plastic tarps like this one, seen here on a house in September 2018, were still covering 30,000 homes when Dorian came through.
Plastic tarps over a damaged roof are seen at a house a year after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico near Loiza, Puerto Rico, September 18, 2018.

In March 2019, over a million Puerto Ricans experienced a drop in food assistance funding due to Congress failing to reauthorize a disaster-aid package that would have provided $600 million in food stamp funding. These un-distributed water bottles were discovered in a lot outside San Juan in July 2019.

In March 2019, over a million Puerto Ricans experienced a drop in food assistance funding due to Congress failing to reauthorize a disaster-aid package that would have provided $600 million in food stamp funding. These un-distributed water bottles were discovered in a lot outside San Juan in July 2019.
Tens of thousands of water bottles meant for victims of Hurricane Maria are seen sitting in a vacant lot in Dorado, west of San Juan, on July 28, 2019.

This month, a former top administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency was charged with conspiracy to commit bribery and disaster fraud when restoring electricity to the island. It took 11 months to restore power to the entire US commonwealth. Electric crews seen here were working on towers in September 2018.

This month, a former top administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency was charged with conspiracy to commit bribery and disaster fraud when restoring electricity to the island. It took 11 months to restore power to the entire US commonwealth. Electric crews seen here were working on towers in September 2018.
Electric company crews work on electrical towers in a clearing atop a mountain on September 19, 2018 in Patillas, Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Irma was the strongest Atlantic basin hurricane ever recorded outside the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, and barreled though southwest Florida in September 2017, costing $50 billion in damages. This canal was still filled with debris in June 2018.

Hurricane Irma was the strongest Atlantic basin hurricane ever recorded outside the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, and barreled though southwest Florida in September 2017, costing $50 billion in damages. This canal was still filled with debris in June 2018.
A debris-filled canal almost a year after Hurricane Irma, in Marathon, Fla in June 2018.

Dune repair had taken place in Florida only months before Irma hit due to destruction from Hurricane Matthew in 2016. In July 2019, FEMA put aside more funds for repairing plants sand dunes destroyed by Irma, seen here on September 5.

Dune repair had taken place in Florida only months before Irma hit due to destruction from Hurricane Matthew in 2016. In July 2019, FEMA put aside more funds for repairing plants sand dunes destroyed by Irma, seen here on September 5.
The dunes in Tybee Island suffered major erosion two years ago by Hurricane Irma. Photographed Sept. 5, 2019.

In August 2019, Florida set aside $75 million of hurricane recovery money from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to buy out flood-damaged homes. $10 million is reserved for the Florida Keys, which Irma hit especially hard. Condemned homes are seen here in January 2018.

In August 2019, Florida set aside $75 million of hurricane recovery money from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to buy out flood-damaged homes. $10 million is reserved for the Florida Keys, which Irma hit especially hard. Condemned homes are seen here in January 2018.
Condemned homes and heavily eroded shoreline due to Irma along Vilando Beach, Fla. north of St. Augustine in January, 2018.

During Irma, the air conditioning was knocked out at a nursing home in Hollywood, Florida, causing the deaths of 14 patients, 12 of which were ruled homicides. In August 2019, three workers turned themselves in to police to face criminal charges. The center shut down after the storm.

During Irma, the air conditioning was knocked out at a nursing home in Hollywood, Florida, causing the deaths of 14 patients, 12 of which were ruled homicides. In August 2019, three workers turned themselves in to police to face criminal charges. The center shut down after the storm.
Police officers talk to a worker at Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills in Hollywood, Fla. after several nursing home patients died amid Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Harvey is tied with Katrina for the costliest hurricane to hit US soil, with damages of $125 billion. The storm rained down on Texas and Louisiana in late August 2017. Here, construction on an overflow pond in Houston continued a year later.

Hurricane Harvey is tied with Katrina for the costliest hurricane to hit US soil, with damages of $125 billion. The storm rained down on Texas and Louisiana in late August 2017. Here, construction on an overflow pond in Houston continued a year later.
Construction continues on a large detention pond for Hunting Bayou overflow in Houston in August 2018, nearly a year after Harvey hit.

Texas has been waiting since February 2018 for $4.3 billion in Congress-approved disaster recovery money. In August 2019, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development finally released rules for the funding. Debris are seen here in August 2018.

Texas has been waiting since February 2018 for $4.3 billion in Congress-approved disaster recovery money. In August 2019, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development finally released rules for the funding. Debris are seen here in August 2018.
Debris laying in the street of a Houston neighborhood in August 2018, almost a year after Harvey hit.

In a Kaiser Family Foundation survey taken a year after Harvey, 27% of Hispanic Texans whose homes were badly damaged reported that they were still unsafe to live in. Half of lower-income respondents said they were not receiving enough help. Construction on a bayou in Houston continued here in September 2018.

In a Kaiser Family Foundation survey taken a year after Harvey, 27% of Hispanic Texans whose homes were badly damaged reported that they were still unsafe to live in. Half of lower-income respondents said they were not receiving enough help. Construction on a bayou in Houston continued here in September 2018.
In September 2018, work still continues for repairing the Hunting Bayou in Houston that overflowed during Hurricane Harvey the year prior.

Houston has a $1.2 billion federally funded program to rebuild homes for Harvey survivors, but by late August 2019, only one person's house was rebuilt.

Houston has a $1.2 billion federally funded program to rebuild homes for Harvey survivors, but by late August 2019, only one person's house was rebuilt.
A new house is being built in May 2018 to replace one destroyed by Hurricane Harvey the previous year.

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