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Risky Business: Embracing Los Angeles' Newest Title

Published on Wed, Jan 6, 2021

By: Doug Stokes

Our beloved Los Angeles has just been “...ranked riskiest place for natural disasters in the US” - LA Times 01/05/21.

Congratulations LA, it’s another first for the old and honorable City of the Angels, you know, the place that the old CB “trucker radio” crowd always were said to refer to as “Shaky City” … Good buddy. 

You (we) (LA) is no longer casually rumored to be an ofttimes scary place to live, it is now so identified, officially and on page 1 in today’s (01.05.21) edition of the Los Angeles Times.

As the official (and only) website that calls itself (established 1997 AD) while we don’t claim all the credit, we take certainly take pride in the fact that we were here, in Los Angeles, doing business and carrying on when this unique classification was announced.

And who says so? FEMA says so, the Federal Emergency Management Agency F-E-M-A (remember them, Brownie?) … as the Times article clearly states: “...of the nation’s more than 3,000 counties Los Angeles earned the highest ranking in the National Risk Index.” The NRI, official, big time, federal government stuff.

However, to me, the term “earned” always meant that somehow whatever it was (money, a title, a ranking, time behind bars) it had been somehow worked for. 

In this case I’m not so sure that we did (unless sucking all that oil out from under the Miracle Mile and most of Long Beach back then was a problem) any real “work” to “earn” this, salubrious “highest ranking” honor.

Here at LACar we’ve, well … we’ve always assumed that this city had come OEM with pretty fair old number of risks int the first place. 

We don’t have space to go over all of them here but everyone and their agent knows that generally the risks are higher here, just by looking around and doing stuff like trying to get into a Trader Joe’s on the West Side at 11 am on a Sunday. 

People used to write things like this off by saying stuff like: “...Oh well, it’s all skittles and beer.” Now I don’t really know what the hell that means and I’ve rarely cried over split milk, but that does not mean that I am not fully aware of the danger that lurks around every (other) corner in this place called Los Angeles.

This (very official, semi-enlightening, and dreadfully dour) Federal Emergency Management Agency study was aided and abetted by a school with innately complicit-sounding name (how does “University of South Carolina Hazards & Vulnerability Research Institute” hit you? (Ok to say “Saaay What?” here). 

That outfit’s “director”, Susan Cutter, talks about “low frequency/high consequences events” (the kind that LA is the most likely to have) helping to skew the numbers away from states with far bigger, noticeable, or catastrophic events but that have far less population to injure and unhouse.

It’s all a sort of a Chutes and Ladders numbers game that gray-toned actuarials get their jollys on, and that only means much of anything when someone is deciding between Medford, Oregon and Mar Vista or Monrovia. 

May we now here present FEMA’s top ten riskiest places to live in the US: 

Number 10: San Bernardio County

Number 9:   Riverside County

Number 8:   St. Louis

Number 7:   Dallas

Number 6:   Philadelphia

Number 5:   Miami

Number 4:   Kings County (Brooklyn)

Number 3:   New York County (Manhattan)

Number 2:   The Bronx

and drum roll please…

The number one riskiest place to live in the United States of America:


Those are the stats folks, we didn’t make any of the above up just to get more people looking at and having a great time here at

Truth be told, we thought that we had a realistic chance at the top three, but have been blown (as we assume you are) away with our favorite city’s number one FEMA ranking.

We honestly had been quite worried about Sheboygan and Buffalo, but the above tally shows that we really were just being modest.

This is LA baby… make no mistake. We choose to live here, work here and report to you about cars and stuff that works pretty damn good in this environment regardless of how risky it is.

We’re used to it.

We love the sense of adventure that it portends.

We relish the challenge.

We (pretty much) live for it.

- Doug Stokes, Editor At Large

Featured photo by Daniel Lee

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