In terms of the overall number of disasters, 2011 was a quiet year with the International Disaster Database recording 302 disasters, 20 percent fewer than the average of 384 disasters in the last 10 years.1 But for some developed countries, 2011 was a terrible year. The year began with once-in-a-hundred years floods in Australia, quickly followed by a devastating earthquake in Christchurch and a month later by a horrific earthquake/tsunami/nuclear accident in Japan. The US was particularly hard hit as Mississippi River floods were followed by a string of deadly tornadoes, the worst drought in generations, terrible wildfires and then Hurricane Irene which closed down much of the country’s east coast for several days.
This Annual Review begins with an overview of the natural disasters that affected developed countries in 2011 and their consequences. This is followed by an overall assessment of natural disasters in 2011, a quick look back at recovery efforts following disasters in 2010– particularly the earthquake in Haiti and the floods in Pakistan – and a review of some of the major disasters that happened outside the rich world, including some that didn’t receive a lot of media coverage.