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Not a drill: How we can work together to build climate resilience

Every dollar invested in resilience and preparedness could save $13 in economic impact and damage costs after a disaster. That's according to research from Allstate and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

A collapsed tree branch destroys a home after Hurricane Ida.

The aftermath of Hurricane Ida on a residential home.

June 25, 2024

The surreal image was splashed across news stations everywhere: one house, seemingly unscathed, standing amid a sea of rubble. The surrounding debris a vestige of a once bustling beachfront community. In an instant, it was all gone.

Hurricane Michael made landfall in 2018 with unprecedented fury. Most of the buildings in Mexico Beach, Fla., weren't built to withstand a Category 5 storm. Nearly every building in town was damaged. More than 800 were destroyed.

But the physical damage only tells part of the story. There was almost no commercial activity in Mexico Beach for three years after Michael. Roughly 300 residents moved away. Five years later, only about 100 had returned. Rebuilding continues to this day.

Mitigating the effects of climate change is not enough. We need to adapt to an already changed landscape.


Yet that one house withstood it all because it was built to be resilient in the face of a storm like Michael. It was constructed with concrete and rebar. The roof was designed to withstand high winds. And the entire home was raised on high pilings to account for seawater surges. The owners' investment wasn't small. But rebuilding the house and replacing the valuables inside would have cost a lot more.

That's the tradeoff that individuals and communities across America must now grapple with as weather-related catastrophes and natural disasters grow more frequent and severe. Billion-dollar events are now the norm. Mitigating the effects of climate change is not enough. We need to adapt to an already changed landscape.

This is not a drill.

In 2022 alone, the cost of natural disasters exceeded $360 billion across the globe, including more than 40 weather events causing over $1 billion in damage each. And the annual impact on the U.S. GDP is significant – a price paid in the form of human lives, physical damage, population transience, and lost jobs and wages.

That's why investments in resilience and preparedness are critical. It's about so much more than saving money – it's about ensuring communities can thrive in a rapidly changing world. But what does an effective resilience and preparedness strategy look like?

Terms to know:

  • Climate resilience: The ability to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to hazardous events, trends, or disturbances related to climate.
  • Climate adaptation: Actions to prepare for and adjust to present and future climate change impacts.
  • Climate mitigation: Actions taken to make the impacts of climate change less severe by preventing or reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases.
  • Preparedness: Precautionary measures taken in the face of potential disasters.

The best approach we can take is to both mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. Find ways to decrease future impacts – like reducing our carbon footprint – while also tackling climate-related destruction that's already happening.

The National Institute of Building Sciences found that every $1 of investment in resilience and preparedness from federal mitigation grants reduces the amount of damage from disasters by $6. But property damage doesn't fully show what can be gained from these investments.

To paint a more complete picture, Allstate teamed up with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to produce the Climate Resiliency Report. It set out to calculate how much these investments could reduce economic losses from disasters.

Our report models 25 disaster scenarios. They include communities of different sizes across the United States, with damage and cleanup costs ranging from $1 billion to $130 billion. Each scenario models the jobs and economic savings from upfront investments in resilience, preparedness and mitigation.

For instance, $10.8 billion of investment for a Category 4 hurricane striking a large coastal city would prevent the loss of roughly 184,000 jobs and save approximately $26 billion in economic production and $17 billion in income.

Category 4 Hurricane Hitting Large Coastal City
Damage Inflicted: $130 Billion
Economic losses caused by the disaster before resilience and preparedness investment Economic losses caused by the disaster after resilience and preparedness investment Economic savings from cutting damage in half Gains from $10.8 billion invested in resilience and preparedness
Jobs -361,106 -177,074 184,032 126,388
Population -210,989 -46,512 164,477 37,047
Labor Force -139,633 -33,221 106,412 24,225
GDP -$46,176,420,797 -$19,788,000,000 $26,388,420,797 $12,855,000,000
Income -$29,155,182,522 -$12,192,000,000 $16,963,182,522 $8,556,000,000

The report's key takeaway is that every $1 invested in disaster preparedness reduces a community's economic costs after an event by $7. That's on top of the $6 of savings in damage. So, for every dollar invested in resilience and preparedness, we stand to save $13 in economic impact, damage and remediation costs after an event.

data graphic.

A call for individual and collective action.

Think back to the home in Mexico Beach that stood when all others were lost. Sure, that property made it through the storm. But what's that really worth when everything around it was swept away?

Communities, businesses and families all need to take action. Here are a few recommendations:


  • Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction. Programs and measures that people in at-risk areas can use to build safer, livable, disaster-resilient communities while taking care of the most vulnerable.
  • Early warning systems. Alert residents to imminent disasters, giving them time to prepare.
  • Mitigation planning. Adopt zoning, land-use practices and building codes that help prevent or reduce damage from disasters.


  • Hazard mitigation. Things like making structural improvements to guard against the hazards you're most likely to face or providing employee training for emergency responses.
  • Disaster risk reduction. Apply one or more of the Five Essentials for Business in Disaster Risk Reduction recommendations outlined by the United Nations Office of Disaster Risk Reduction.


  • Awareness and education. Learn about the types of disasters your area is prone to and how you can stay safe.
  • Preparedness. Create a disaster plan that includes a meeting point if family members are separated.
  • Home improvements. Structural changes could include elevating electrical appliances, using flood-resistant materials, and upgrading roofs or other materials that help fortify the home.

We also need to consider ways to encourage more public-private engagement on public policy solutions.

Ways Allstate will promote resilience in communities:

  • Continue our work with the U.S. Chamber, advocating for better use of annual federal disaster relief.
  • Supporting legislation like the Resilient AMERICA Act.
  • Reduce our carbon footprint while investing in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Perhaps most importantly, we'll shine a spotlight on this issue. The economic benefits of investing in preparedness are clear. But the biggest, most important benefit of safer, more resilient communities is saving lives.

The Preparedness Payoff

See our full report in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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