U.S. Counties Most At Risk From Natural Hazards

Natural hazards pose a significant threat to various regions across the United States. Understanding which areas are most at risk can help in disaster preparedness and mitigation efforts.

Here’s an overview of the U.S. counties most at risk from natural hazards, based on data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other sources.

The Most Disaster-Prone Counties in the U.S.

  1. Los Angeles County, California: Topping the list, Los Angeles County faces a high risk of natural disasters, including wildfires, earthquakes, and floods. Its large population and infrastructure make it particularly vulnerable​​.
  2. East Baton Rouge Parish and Orleans Parish, Louisiana: These parishes are highly susceptible to hurricanes and flooding, with their coastal location making them particularly prone to these disasters​​.
  3. Riverside County, California: Similar to Los Angeles, Riverside County is at risk from wildfires and earthquakes. Its proximity to the San Andreas Fault increases its earthquake risk​​.
  4. Jefferson Parish, Louisiana: Along with other parishes in Louisiana, Jefferson Parish faces significant threats from hurricanes and floods​​.
  5. Coastal Counties in General: Coastal states, particularly in California, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida, face the highest number of climate and weather disaster events. These include fires, hurricanes, and floods​​.

FEMA’s National Risk Index (NRI)

FEMA’s NRI provides a more comprehensive understanding by incorporating three components: Expected Annual Loss from natural hazards, Social Vulnerability, and Community Resilience.

This tool ranks over 3,000 U.S. counties based on their risk of 18 natural hazards, including avalanches, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and winter weather. The NRI helps in planning and resource allocation for emergency operations, hazard mitigation, and community recovery​​​​.

Key Insights

  • High-Risk Areas: The FEMA NRI indicates that certain areas in the U.S. are more susceptible to natural hazards due to environmental factors and socio-economic conditions.
  • Diverse Hazards: The range of natural hazards includes geological events like earthquakes and environmental phenomena like wildfires and hurricanes.
  • Community Resilience: Factors such as community preparedness, infrastructure robustness, and emergency response capabilities significantly impact how effectively a region can handle natural disasters.

Implications for Disaster Preparedness

Understanding the risk profile of these counties is crucial for effective disaster preparedness and response. It assists local governments in updating emergency plans, prioritizing resource allocation, enhancing hazard mitigation strategies, and educating residents about risks and safety measures.

This knowledge is also vital for homeowners and businesses in these areas to take proactive steps in disaster preparedness and insurance planning.


The identification of the most at-risk counties from natural hazards in the U.S. underscores the importance of focused disaster preparedness and mitigation efforts. By recognizing the specific risks faced by these regions, local governments, communities, and individuals can better prepare for and respond to natural disasters, ultimately reducing the potential for loss of life and property.