The last two catastrophic hurricanes that battered the US left massive destruction on the cities along their path. While it is still very difficult to measure the full economic extent of their devastation, experts agree that the total financial loss could reach billions of dollars. CNN has some specific figures:
One monster hurricane can cause serious economic damage.
So what happens when two massive storms hit the U.S. within two weeks of each other?
Hurricane Harvey decimated parts of Texas and damaged southwest Louisiana when it hit the region late last month, destroying billions of dollars worth of property.
Now, Hurricane Irma is tearing through Florida.
Both storms will be extremely costly. RMS, a catastrophe modeling company, estimates that Harvey has caused between $25 billion and $35 billion in losses that will be covered by insurance. The total economic damage, which includes uninsured losses, could be between $70 billion and $90 billion.
RMS is waiting until Monday or Tuesday to release damage estimates from Irma, since the storm’s path is still in flux.
AIR Worldwide, another so-called catastrophe modeling firm, says Irma might cause anywhere between $15 billion and $50 billion worth of insured losses in the United States. Damage in the Caribbean could bring that number to $65 billion.
Others say Irma’s cost could be even higher. Chuck Watson, an analyst with the disaster research group Enki Research, said the situation “looks pretty grim.”
Watson estimated that Irma could cause $172 billion in total U.S. damage, based on the storm’s path as of Sunday morning. He expected that $65 billion of that amount will be insured losses, and that $40 billion will need to be covered by the National Flood Insurance Program. That assumed the storm maintains its intensity as it moves north.
Irma was initially expected to hit Miami directly, but it shifted west. Forecasts show the storm moving up Florida’s west coast on Sunday and Monday, hitting Naples and Fort Meyers before reaching Tampa. It made landfall in the Florida Keys early Sunday.
Property damage isn’t the only issue in play. Harvey has already hurt the job market, and Irma could exacerbate the problem. That could knock down short-term economic growth.
On Thursday, the federal government reported that 62,000 more people sought jobless insurance in the last week of August, mostly from Texas.
That raised the total number of claims for the week to 298,000 — the highest level in more than two years.
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