Entries in Natural Disasters (3)


Economy, Alabama Storms Push U.S. Food Stamp Program to All-Time High

USDA(WASHINGTON) -- According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), some 45.8 million people collected food stamps in May, up from 44 million in April.

That's an all-time high, up 12 percent from a year ago and an astonishing 34 percent from two years ago. Comparing May 2010 to May 2011, more than 20 states have seen double-digit percent growth in individuals seeking food assistance benefits.

"The rise in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) indicates that the economy is still in tough shape and for a lot of people the recession has not ended," Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist for ConvergEx, told ABC News.

Alabama saw a dramatic increase in food stamp recipients after deadly storms tore through the area, leading some residents to seek disaster relief, according to the USDA. Of Alabama's more than 4.7 million residents, 1.7 million are receiving assistance for food, according to the agency. The figure has more than doubled from May 2010 to May 2011 for the state's residents.

Throughout the years, the cost to maintain SNAP has risen due to inflation, and an increase in demand as the program sheds its stigma -- and as the economy continues to suffer.

In 2010, the program cost U.S. taxpayers $68 billion, compared with $250 million in 1969 when the program began, or $1.4 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars.

With Congress set to trim trillions from the federal budget over the next decade, some are speculating that the USDA may face cuts.
While the SNAP program could turn into a political topic, "the food stamp program does run much more directly to childhood hunger than an unemployed single program," says Colas. "If a politician wants to propose cutting food stamps they're going to run into the 20 percent of Americans using it."

Overall, 1 in 5 people in the U.S receive food stamp assistance and the average household receives $284 a month from the program.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Protect Your Business, Information from Natural Disasters

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Are you ready if disaster strikes?

The hurricane season has just begun, but last month was the worst on record for tornado destruction.  Yet, most consumers and small business owners aren't prepared for natural disasters.

As Susan Solovik of says, most small firms have never considered a disaster preparedness plan.

"You know it's like burying your head in the sand," she says.

Among the first things business owners should protect are "your computers, your software, your databases...also your vendors and suppliers," Solovik says.

Similarly, households should also have a plan in case of a disaster.

"You need to keep backing up all of your critical information and either store it in a unit that you can keep off site or store it electronically with some sort of cloud computing software," Solovik says.

And don't forget to scan all of your legal documents.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Disaster Insurance Cost Rising Along with Occurrence of Disasters

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Insurance experts say the likelihood of more floods and hurricanes in the future is rising.

In fact, a new report from a Swiss insurance firm says the number of earthquakes, floods and other disasters around the world rose last year compared to 2009.

For homeowners without disaster insurance, damage from natural disasters can prove to be costly.

"Are you financially ready to pay for what could be hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses to fix your home?," says Anna Maria Andreotis of

Although the premiums for these insurance policies "have been rising and they're expected to continue rising going forward," Andreotis says they may be something to consider.

"If you live in an area that's prone to either earthquakes to hurricanes to flooding that is something you need to keep in mind," she says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio