Hurricane Irene is the 10th billion-dollar disaster this year
This month, the National Climatic Data Center released a report saying that the fallout from extreme weather had cost the United States $35 billion so far this year. Because of Hurricane Irene, that number has just gone up.
The authors of the report have added Hurricane Irene to the list of nine disasters in 2011 that have cost the U.S. more than $1 billion each. However, they still aren't sure how much Irene will set the country back.
"While it will take several months to determine an accurate estimate of the damage from Hurricane Irene, there is no question it will rank as the 10th billion–dollar weather event of the year," they wrote in an addition to the report.
"This 10th U.S. billion-dollar disaster officially breaks the annual record dating back to 1980," they added.
The National Climatic Data Center may not be able to tell us how much Irene will cost, but other entities have tried to put a number on how much financial damage the storm left in its wake.
A spokeswoman for the Insurance Institute, an industry trade group, told the Los Angeles Times that she expected total losses to be somewhere between $2 billion and $5 billion, while catastrophe modeling company AIR Worldwide put it between $3 billion and $6 billion.
But Peter Morici, former chief economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission, put the cost of damages significantly higher.
"Irene is testing flood-level records in New York City and in much of the Northeast, raising casualty loss estimates to $20 billion," he wrote in the Kansas City Star. "Add to those the loss of about two days of economic activity, spread over a week, across 25% of the economy, and an estimate of the losses imposed by Irene is about $40 million to $45 billion."
-- Deborah Netburn
Photo: Chuck Bond of Mariaville Lake, N.Y., and girlfriend Laurie Williams of Cobleskill, N.Y., look at what's left of his brother's camp; it was washed away during Tropical Storm Irene. Credit: Hans Pennink / Associated Press