Speed Reads

A Startling Statistic

Natural disasters displaced more than 3 million Americans in 2022, U.S. Census says

An estimated 3.4 million Americans were displaced from their homes due to natural disasters in 2022, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The data, which was collected this past January, provides a snapshot into the role that climate change can play in altering American communities. The Census Bureau concluded that the majority of those displaced were forced out due to hurricanes, while floods, fires, and tornadoes were other major environmental factors. 

While up to 40 percent of displaced Americans were able to return home within a week, the Census reported, at least 16 percent haven't been able to do so. An additional 12 percent of people were displaced for more than six months, according to the Census. 

The data, which the Census notes is "experimental," was collected based on 68,504 responses to the Census' Household Pulse Survey, and is one of a limited number of federal resources aimed at tracking displaced Americans. 

Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, told NBC News that the Census' numbers "are very distressing."

"These numbers are what one would expect to find in a developing country. It's appalling to see them in the United States," Gerrard said, adding that displacements are "only going to get worse in the years to come because climate change is making extreme weather events more frequent and more severe."

The Census concluded that up to 1.4 percent of all U.S. adults may have been displaced in 2022, a number that NBC noted is higher than most other estimates such as the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center.

The state that got hit the worst, according to the Census, was Florida, where an estimated 888,895 people were uprooted from their homes due to hurricanes.