Parts of NYC, NJ among top 5 riskiest counties for tornadoes by new FEMA tool

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disaster risk counties

FEMA ranking of overal riskiest U.S. counties for natural disasters.

NEW YORK CITY — A first-of-its-kind tool ranks parts of New York City and New Jersey among the top five riskiest counties in the United states for tornadoes.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) put together The National Risk Index to calculate natural hazards for counties across the country. Eighty federal agency experts, including from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as well as the United States Geological Survey (USGA), were involved in the data collection.

While there’s no question that places like Kansas and Oklahoma are at a high risk for tornadoes, it turns out parts of New York City ranks even higher on the index because the application takes other factors into account.

“The tri-state area is affected by 15 out of the 18 natural disasters. Tornadoes, of course, being one of the high-risk areas in New York, mainly because of the high-density population,” said Michael Grimm, Acting Deputy Associate Administrator for FEMA’s Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration.

It’s not about how often a disaster strikes a place, but how big of an impact it has on a community, according to FEMA. Along with Philadelphia, two New York City counties as well as St. Louis County and Hudson County in New Jersey are FEMA’s top five riskiest counties for tornadoes, while Oklahoma County ranks 120th.

The tool is the first of its kind and determines risk by reviewing a community’s expected annual loss based on hazard frequency, exposure, and historic loss rate; social vulnerability by measuring the susceptibility of impacted social groups; and community resilience, which measures the ability of a community to recover from the impacts of natural hazards. Just type in a location to see where it falls on the list.

Among the counties at a “very high risk” overall, Los Angeles is at the top of the list. The Bronx takes the No. 2 spot with Manhattan in third and Brooklyn sixth.

The county with the lowest risk in the country is Loudoun in Virginia. The suburb of Washington, D.C., had the lowest disaster score compared to any other county, according to the index.

But no matter where a county falls on the list, FEMA said the goal is to help everyone better prepare for natural disasters.

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