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Southern California is most disaster-prone region in U.S.

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Southern California is a disaster.

Oh, you’ve heard?

Sure, but in this case “disaster” isn’t code for “too expensive” or “not as cool as when I was a kid” or “politically bananas.”

No, this time, disaster means disaster. In fact, according to a new national ranking of 3,200-plus U.S. counties, Southern California rates as the single most disaster-prone region in the country.

Quakes, fires, floods, droughts, rising seas, deadly surf, heat waves, cold snaps, hurricanes (kinda) and beetles that devour trees all hit our region more frequently, and often with more intensity, than do the tornadoes and hurricanes that plague other disaster-prone regions, including south Texas and coastal Louisiana and pretty much every inch of Florida.

What’s more, if you include disaster-adjacent factors – a community’s ability (or inability) to respond to a damaging natural event, the cost of rebuilding structures and roads, the typical resident’s access to emergency health care – Southern California ranks worst in what emergency response experts refer to as “disaster vulnerability.”

In a new report by ClaimGuard.org, a Florida-based nonprofit that tracks issues important to insurance consumers, researchers used state and federal data to rank Los Angeles as the most “disaster vulnerable” county in the nation. Three other counties in the region – Riverside (No. 3), San Bernardino (No. 4) and Orange (No. 8) – also ranked in the national top 10, and San Diego and Ventura counties are Nos. 11 and 19, respectively.

The survey measured the disaster history for each county and three separate but related issues – the estimated cost for rebuilding, the number of people who most often are hurt in big disasters and overall community resilience. By all of those measures, Southern California counties graded out as disaster hot zones.

“None of this is a surprise if you live there,” said Collin Czarnecki, a ClaimGuard data researcher who helped write the report.

“It’s not scary or bad,” he added. “It’s just reality.”

Disaster Inc.

It’s also expensive.



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