Issues & Insights

Biden Was Wildly Wrong About Ian’s Death Toll — Here’s Why It Matters

The day after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida, President Joe Biden issued his forecast: “This could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida’s history.” Was he hoping it would be? Or is he just ignorant of the history of hurricanes?

“The numbers are still unclear,” Biden said, “but we’re hearing early reports of what could be substantial loss of life.”

So far, the death toll in Florida from Ian is a little more than 30. That number will no doubt rise, but it is far short of the deadliest, and might be one of the least deadly hurricanes to hit that hurricane-prone state.

The deadliest record was set in 1928, when the San Felipe-Okeechobee Hurricane landed near Palm Beach and some 2,500 people died, most of them from a 6-to 9-foot surge the hurricane caused in Lake Okeechobee. There were also hurricanes in the 1600s and 1700s that are believed to have killed more than 1,000 people in Florida.

The Labor Day Hurricane that hit the Florida Keys in 1935 with sustained wind speeds of 185 mph killed more than 400.

Keep in mind that those deaths came when Florida’s population was a fraction of what it is today. (This Wikipedia page has a list of the deadliest hurricanes in Florida.)

So, no. Ian won’t be the “deadliest” in Florida’s history. And if Biden had any understanding of history, he’d have known that it wouldn’t be.

Of the 20 deadliest hurricanes to hit the United States since 1857, 12 occurred more than 100 years ago, and half of those were in the 1800s, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Since 1928, the only hurricane to have claimed more than 1,000 lives was Katrina. (Almost half of those deaths were from drowning after levees failed – levees that were built by the federal government, and would have been reinforced had Louisiana politicians not misappropriated federal funds that were intended to control flooding.)

But wait. We keep hearing from the environmentalist crowd that hurricanes are getting more powerful and more deadly thanks to man’s greenhouse gas emissions. So why aren’t we seeing the catastrophic loss of life that Biden expected?

Simple. We are far better able to deal with massive storms than we were 100 or even 60 years ago. New construction is more hurricane-proof. We have better ways to track hurricanes and our warning systems have improved. And, as with Ian – and unlike Katrina – the state government was ready with evacuation notices, and people responded to those.

This is also evidenced by the fact that most of the hurricane deaths in recent years have been in poorer countries.

The same is true with any natural disaster. More prosperous nations also suffer fewer causalities in earthquakes, for example.

Sure, hurricanes have become costlier in recent years, but that’s just a function of a growing economy. As more people move into an area and the value of the things they build and bring increases, the cost of any catastrophic event is going to rise.

So, what would cause Biden to be so incredibly wrong about Ian’s death toll? Bad information? Senility?

Our guess is that it has to do with climate change. Not actual climate change. The hysteria about climate change. All we ever hear during hurricane season — which is probably what Biden was hearing from his advisors — is that global warming is making hurricanes more powerful and more deadly.

But even if the former were true, the latter isn’t. And that’s the important lesson. Rather than spend trillions of dollars impoverishing ourselves on “net zero” schemes – in hopes that somehow it will protect us from extreme weather – why aren’t we focused on doing things that will improve prosperity?

Because nothing is more clear from the natural disaster record than that prosperity – and the ability it provides to better withstand whatever comes – is how you save lives.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • It is not that biden is “ignorant”, he is an idiot!! You know, like lenin said, “useful idiots” he is one of them!

  • Lies and mis-information are the modus operandi of Democrat politicians. Am getting sick of the climate change mantra being dragged out every time there is a storm. But repeat a lie often enough, and it will come to be believed. So, a method in the madness. If Biden leaves people with a false impression, it serves to further the narrative. Perhaps a strategic lie. Perhaps a habitual lie. Hard to tell.

  • But, but, but global cooling, er, global warmig, I mean climate disruption, no, no, climate CHANGE …

  • Thank you, I&I. We need level headedness regarding weather, climate, economics, and hazards or we will be in a new dark ages for sure.

  • How can the Galveston hurricane of 1900 be ignored? It is estimated that 6,000 to 10,000 people were killed. It was so bad they never came up with an accurate estimate.

  • “But wait. We keep hearing from the environmentalist crowd that hurricanes are getting more powerful and more deadly thanks to man’s greenhouse gas emissions. So why aren’t we seeing the catastrophic loss of life that Biden expected?”

    One reason is that what we keep hearing is Used Food. They keep predicting, nature keeps making fools of them.

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