South Carolina ranks in the top 10 U.S. states for frequency of natural disasters, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The state's geographical location and climate make it particularly vulnerable to hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. From 1953 to 2023, South Carolina was declared a disaster area 42 times due to hurricanes alone. Notable disasters include Hurricane Hugo in 1989, which caused significant damage and loss of life, and the historic flooding in 2015 that resulted in widespread devastation.
The economic toll of these disasters on South Carolina is substantial. According to the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), South Carolina suffered an estimated $11.6 billion in losses from 1980 to 2023. This figure includes the cost of property damage, lost productivity, and disaster response but does not account for the invaluable loss of human life. The state's Department of Health and Environmental Control reported that between 2000 and 2019, 221 lives were lost due to natural disasters in South Carolina.
Given the frequency and impact of natural disasters in South Carolina, disaster preparedness is of utmost importance. Being prepared can mitigate the effects of these events, reduce the loss of life, and speed up recovery.