Disaster ranking: Emporia ranked nation’s fifth safest place

Rising water and waves from Hurricane Irene surround a beachfront house Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011 in Hampton Bays, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

WASHINGTON — When it comes to natural disasters, Emporia, Virginia, ranks as the fifth safest place in the nation.

The safest is Sweet Grass County, Montana, according to Time, which used records from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration storm events database to crunch the numbers for its disaster index of counties. The database includes tornado and earthquakes dating back to 1950, plus 42 other damage-causing natural phenomena since 1996.

In coming up with its list of the safest and most dangerous counties, Time acknowledged that not all disaster events are equally dangerous. For the rankings, Time tallied up whether the disaster caused death, property damage, injuries or crop damage in each county.

Time says the folks in Sweet Grass are “fortunate enough to live far from wildfires to the west and twister country to the east, not to mention 900 miles from any trouble caused by the sea.”

Emporia is technically not a county. It’s an independent city within Greensville County, Virginia. But it is the only East Coast location on the safest list, the top 10 of which is dominated by four Montana counties.

Emporia has had one natural disaster that caused $25,000 in property damage, but it resulted in no deaths and had no crop damage associated with it.

The safest counties, according to Time:

  1. Sweet Grass, Montana
  2. Washington County, Idaho
  3. Wheatland County, Montana
  4. Sherman County, Oregon
  5. Emporia, Virginia
  6. Fergus County, Montana
  7. Luna County, New Mexico
  8. Liberty County, Montana
  9. Grant County, New Mexico
  10. Malheur County, Oregon

While Emporia may be the only safest East Coast place from disasters, six New Jersey and New York counties appear on the most dangerous list, with Ocean County, New Jersey, at the top. The other four are in California.

The most dangerous counties, according to Time:

  1. Ocean County, New Jersey
  2. Orange County, California
  3. Cape May County, New Jersey
  4. Monmouth County, New Jersey
  5. Los Angeles County, California
  6. Clinton County, New York
  7. Burlington County, New Jersey
  8. San Diego County, California
  9. Franklin County, New York
  10. Riverside County, California

Time has an interactive map where you can put in a county or city and see how areas rank and how much disaster damage has been done.

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