5 Disaster Prone Cities That Have It Worse Than NYC

Odds are, there are many more disaster prone cities in the world than the one you live in.

A fairly large number of movies depict New York City as a major victim of natural disaster, be it apocalyptic or otherwise.

While it’s true that America’s largest city is prone to hurricane damage, flooding, and cinematic alien attacks (only in movies), and that it is perhaps not adequately prepared to deal with possible damage, globally (and even nationally) there are cities much, much worse off.

1. Dallas, TX

According to The New York Times’ map of US natural disasters, the most disaster prone city in America is the Dallas-Plano-Irving area. The 2011 map takes into account the history of disaster and storm damage in the area, which turns out to be extreme for this Texan city. Dallas has records of almost everything but earthquakes: tornadoes, hurricanes, drought, hail, winds and floods, to name a few.

Houston Texas, the site of destruction during  hurricane Harvey in 2017, is shown on the map as the U.S. city with the 4th highest risk for disaster.

The high frequency of these natural disasters is likely in part due to location near the Gulf of Mexico as well as on the edge of Tornado Alley. It’s an unfortunate combination of hurricane issues that come with coastal cities, and twister issues associated with the Midwest – a mix that makes this area susceptible to the wrath of Mother Nature on her worst of days.

2. Shanghai, China

Shanghai is the most vulnerable city in the entire world to extreme flooding, according to a study published by the journal Natural Hazards. Shanghai has a high rate of typhoons, rainstorms, storm surges and other natural disasters which the city is critically unprepared for, often meaning serious damage for the city and its inhabitants.

3. Kathmandu, Nepal

When it comes to earthquakes, Kathmandu is the most disaster prone city due to its location on one of the most seismically active faults. Undergoing an estimate of nine major earthquakes roughly every 75 year since 1255 AD, the last in 1934 killing 8,000 people, the risk of earthquakes combined with the faulty construction of residential buildings leaves the entire city at risk.

The National Society for Earthquake Technology estimates that if a earthquake with the same magnitude of 1934’s were to occur today, the death toll would be up to 40,000, with 60% of buildings seriously damaged or destroyed.

4. Manila, Philippines

The Philippines’ largest city and capital, with a population of 11.3 million, also just so happens to be located on the “Ring of Fire,” a seismic belt of volcanoes of which at least 20 are active. Besides this, Manila also faces severe weather problems, with a rainy season lasting from May to November, often accompanied by deadly typhoons.

Luckily, the extremely high risk of disaster Manila faces has forced the city and country alike to be among the best prepared to deal with said damages.

5. Mumbai, India

As the 4th largest city in the world, most of which is only just above sea level, Mumbai tops the list of cities in terms of total population vulnerable to extreme flooding. It certainly does not help that the city also rests on an earthquake fault line, or that there are over 6 million people living in slums along the water.

With 82 chronic flood spots and sea level rising 3mm per year, according to Management of Urban Floods, any serious catastrophe in Mumbai would not only endanger millions, but have a major economic effect on all of India.

Updated. Cover photo courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers via Flickr.

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Jennifer Markert