The cost: The frequency of major heat waves in the Midwest is on the rise. During the 1995 Chicago heat wave, about 700 people died, and one study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information projected an increase of between 166 and 2,217 excess deaths per year from heat wave-related mortality in Chicago by 2081-2100.
What's being done: Heat response plans and early warning systems save lives but many municipalities lack such plans.
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The cost: The drought of 2011 reduced crop fields and affected livestock. The price tag to Texas farmers and ranchers was more than $5 billion (an amount reimbursed to farmers by the taxpayer funded farm bill), a 28 percent loss compared to average revenue of prior years, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service economists. Strong fires also killed two people, destroyed 1,673 homes and caused $325 million in damage.
What's being done: The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality requests public water suppliers to submit drought contingency plans and Texas created an Emergency Drinking Water Task Force following the 2011 drought to coordinate resources. But more is needed to address future droughts.
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The cost: In August 2011, tropical storm Irene brought inundations and flooding to Vermont, closing 146 segments of the state road system and more than 200 bridges. It ended up costing an estimated $175 million to $200 million to rebuild highways and bridges.
What's being done: The Vermont Agency of Transportation is working with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources to study the structures of rivers. They recognize that risk reduction may involve managing rivers as much as upgrading bridges and roadways. But VTrans has said that it doesn't have the needed funds to begin rebuilding the entire highway network to withstand future flooding.
—By Marine Cole, The Fiscal Times