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“We believe the damage estimate from Irma to be about $100 billion — among the costliest hurricanes of all time. This amounts to 0.5 of a percentage point of the GDP of $19 trillion,” said AccuWeather founder and president Dr. Joel N. Myers.
Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Houston with record amounts of rain and catastrophic flooding late last month, was already expected to be one of the most expensive weather disasters in the history of the United States.
“We estimated that Hurricane Harvey is to be the costliest weather disaster in U.S. history, at $190 billion, or 1 full percentage point of the GDP,” Myers noted.
According to AccuWeather, the economic costs will include:
• Disruptions to businesses
• Increased unemployment rates for weeks, and possibly months in some places
• Damage to transportation, infrastructure
• Crop loss, including cotton crop and 25 percent of orange crop, which will impact the cost of consumables for all Americans
• Increased gasoline, heating oil and jet fuel prices impacting all Americans
• Damage to homes, cars, furniture, antiques, jewelry and other valuables
• Loss of valuable papers, cherished belongings such as photos
“Some of the losses will be covered by insurance, some will not, so the losses will be felt in a variety of ways by millions of people. Many millions of people have already been evacuated, so their lives have already been affected and they have incurred costs of one sort or another,” Myers said.
For the first time in the history of modern-day record keeping, two Category 4 or stronger hurricanes struck the United States in the same year. “That is extraordinary by itself,” Myers explained. “And also unprecedented is that this particular storm, Irma, has sustained intensity for the longest period of time of any hurricane or typhoon in any ocean of the world since the satellite era began.”
More than six million people are without electricity in Florida, and many towns have imposed curfews due to looting. Irma’s impact will continue to be felt Tuesday through Thursday across Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Heavy rain and possible flash flooding will be a concern moving forward.