What is the Cost of a Disaster?

A breakdown of Harvey's costs compared to Katrina and Sandy

To gage what the city of Houston and the people look forward to in the coming years following Hurricane Harvey, you have to look back. Back to 2012 and Superstorm Sandy. Back to 2005 and Hurricane Katrina.

What’s the Cost of a Disaster?

Hurricane Harvey is set to be the most costly U.S. natural disaster. AccuWeather estimates the total economic impact will top $190 billion. That's enough to buy all 32 NFL teams. Twice.

2005’s Katrina left $125 billion ($160 billion adjusted for inflation) in damages. Superstorm Sandy resulted in a little over $65 billion ($71 billion adjusted for inflation) in damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

And New Orleans, left devastated by Katrina and the multiple states impacted by Sandy, still have not fully recovered.

What’s the Cost of Displacement?

Over 800,000 citizens were displaced by Katrina. That’s the equivalent of the city of Charlotte, North Carolina. Over 204,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.

The city was slow to reclaim its population size. By 2008, the city’s population grew to only half of what it once was. In 2017, the population is around 390,000, about 65,000 shy of what the city once had in 2005.

The homeless population doubled following the hurricane, with one in 25 people without a place to live.

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), released a report estimating 776,000 people across 24 states were displaced by Superstorm Sandy. That’s more than the amount of people who live in Seattle, Washington.  Over 600,000 housing units were destroyed or damaged in New York and New Jersey by Sandy.

While it’s not yet known how many people will be displaced by Harvey, it’s estimated at least 30,000 will seek shelter. FEMA estimates over 450,000 people will seek federal aid, which is the population of Miami, Florida.

What’s the Cost of Insurance Payouts?

The flood damage expected from Harvey is estimated to mirror the flood damages from Katrina. But there’s one big difference. While 1 out of 2 of the homeowners impacted by Katrina had flood insurance, only one in 10 homeowners impacted by Harvey do.

And there's no guarantee victims will receive full compensation for damages.

The flood program, run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, currently owes the Treasury $24 billion dollars in funds. That money was borrowed to cover the costs of Katrina and Sandy. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 1.7 million Hurricane Katrina insurance claimed were filed. The federal insurance program paid $16 billion just for flood damage from Katrina. The program paid $8.4 billion for flood damage associated with Hurricane Sandy.

For Sandy, thousands of homeowners were denied flood insurance claim because of fraudulent engineers’ reports. A class-action racketeering lawsuit was filed against several insurance companies and their contract engineering firms. As of 2015, FEMA planned to review all flood insurance claims.

And, fights over insurers over wind versus storm damage stretched out for years after Sandy, according to USA Today.

What’s the Cost of Jobs?

Following Katrina, the unemployment rate doubled. 95,000 jobs were lost in the first 10 months alone. The U.S. Department of Labor saw 439,000 unemployment claims filed in the month following Hurricane Sandy. Goldman Sachs estimates, with the rise in jobless claims to come from Harvey, this means a temporary slowdown in retail sales, construction spending and industrial production. All of which will leave the economic impact of Harvey to be felt for years to come. 

Copyright 2017 WFMY


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