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>> Catastrophic hurricanes and a raging wildfire season made 2017 the costliest year on record for natural disasters in the US. The disasters cost $306 billion in total damage, with 16 separate events costing more than $1 billion each, according to numbers released Monday by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The bulk of the losses came from three back-to-back hurricanes, Harvey, that caused extreme flooding in Houston, Irma, that ravaged Florida, and Maria, that battered Puerto Rico. Separately, wildfires along the West Coast racked up a record $18 billion in damages last year and claimed 54 lives. The weather agency also said that 2017 was the third hottest year for most states across the US.