Every year, Mother Nature claims thousands of lives and causes billions in damage worldwide. In the US, nearly every month this year has brought a catastrophe costing $1 billion or more, according to the NOAA. A blizzard blanketed the Midwest and Northeast in late January early February while tornadoes ravaged the Southeast and Midwest this spring. 

In the last month alone, an extremely rare 5.8 earthquake rattled the East Coast albeit with only minor injuries and damage, followed by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Many parts of the country have received record precipitation with ongoing flood warnings (my area included), while other regions are battling prolonged droughts and fierce wildfires.

Japan, of course, has suffered the greatest blow this year with March's earthquake and tsunami, not to mention the radiation exposure from its nuclear meltdowns. Anyhow, without listing every cataclysm on record, the point is, this blue marble isn't as gentle as we'd like it to be. Have you been affected by any natural disasters (recent or otherwise)? If so, did you learn anything from the experience? Do you make long-term preparations against environmental catastrophes, such as food and water reserves or backup power for your appliances and electronics?