Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Volunteer fire fighter Joe Crawford fights a wildfire in Graford, Texas, in September, when wildfires swept through parts of Texas and Oklahoma.
Volunteer fire fighter Joe Crawford fights a wildfire in Graford, Texas, in September, when wildfires swept through parts of Texas and Oklahoma. Tom Pennington/Getty Images
In 2011, there were 12 disasters in the U.S. that cost $1 billion or more each. That's a record number, including Hurricane Irene, Mississippi river flooding, wildfires and a rare East Coast earthquake. The National Climatic Data Center says that the total weather damage this year was $52.
A federally declared major disaster means Washington will help pay the costs of recovery. This year, just three states — Michigan, South Carolina and West Virginia — made it through the year without any federally declared disasters.
From Joplin, Mo., to Rutland, Vt., rebuilding continues. It's a task that for many communities will last well into 2012.