Texas has seen its number of natural disasters increase by 244% over the past four decades, making it the 13th-highest rate of increase in the nation, according to a recent insurance company analysis. And with 26 federally declared natural disasters within that same time period, Bastrop County is a significant contributor to that spike.
Texas counted 50 natural disasters - floods, droughts, wildfires, severe storms and hurricanes - between 1980 and 1999, according Federal Emergency Management Agency data. Between 2000 and 2017, that number jumped to 172, placing Texas alongside Oklahoma and California as states leading the nation in natural disasters, with wildfires being the primary disaster, according to the insurance data platform QuoteWizard.
The number of natural disasters in Bastrop County has increased by 171% over the past four decades, according to FEMA data. Between 1980 and 1999, the county recorded seven federally declared disasters - three of which were fire-related. In the following two decades, between 2000 and 2017, the county recorded 19 federally declared disasters, with 10 being fire-related.
The 26 natural disasters recorded in the county since 1980 makes it the county with the eighth-highest number of disasters in the state, according to FEMA data. Cameron, Nueces and San Patricio counties also recorded 26 disasters.
Harris County lead the state with 33 hurricanes, floods, severe storms, fires and one tornado. Walker County, the home of Huntsville, followed closely with 32. But among the counties with the top 10 highest number of recorded disasters, Bastrop County had the highest number of fire-related disasters, hazards and threats, FEMA data shows. There was the Bob's Trail Fire in 2000, followed by the Cedar Creek Fire and Orchard Fire in 2006. Three years later there was the Montague Fire Complex and the Wilderness Ridge Fire.
And in 2011, there was the largest fire recorded in Texas history - the 2011 Bastrop County Complex Fire, a 34,000-acre inferno that destroyed over 1,600 homes and killed two people, according to state data. Blazes returned again in 2015 when the Hidden Pines Fire torched 4,582 acres and destroyed 64 buildings and homes.
Nationwide, the number of natural disasters have increased 165% over the past four decades, according to QuoteWizard. And of the top 15 states with the highest increase in natural disasters, the group says, all states except Kansas and Alaska had wildfires as the most common natural disaster.