Economic Damage Wrought By Hurricane Florence Nearly 10 Times Worse Than Expected
23 September, 2018
Rivers in the Carolinas are still rising and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has warned that it still isn't safe for displaced residents to return to their property. But that hasn't stopped Moody's from releasing the first estimate of the economic damage wrought by Hurricane Florence.
Based on Moody’s estimates, last year’s three hurricanes each caused more damage than Florence: Harvey’s tally reached $133.5 billion; Maria’s $120 billion; and Irma’s $84.2 billion.
Florence, which made landfall Sept. 14 and has claimed 41 lives in the Carolinas and Virginia, is continuing to wreak havoc. Rivers in the Carolinas are continuing to rise, and more than 600 roads were still closed Friday in North Carolina. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned it still isn’t safe for many people to return home including the 3,700 who remain in shelters.
Part of the Cape Fear River is forecast to crest Saturday while the Waccamaw River at Conway, S.C., isn’t expected to crest until Tuesday or Wednesday next week , according to the National Weather Service.
In a rescue Thursday night in the town of Kelly, N.C., more than 100 stranded people were plucked from harm by National Guard and Coast Guard helicopters, authorities said.
Private insurers are preparing for an estimated $1.7 billion to $5 billion in total costs from Florence. The estimates from catastrophe-risk modeling firms include damage to homes, cars and commercial property, and also include policy benefits like living expenses for homeowners and business interruption for companies, but typically exclude flood claims for individual homes.
Risk modeler Karen Clark & Co. said the cost to the insurance industry was held down because hurricane-force winds were experienced only along the North Carolina cost, with less powerful, tropical-storm-force winds elsewhere in the two states.
"This led to widespread low level damage," the firm said.
The current estimates for the insurance industry’s bill are dramatically lower than some of the figures discussed about when Florence was spinning offshore at Category 4 wind strength.
"Since the storm weakened from a Category 4 to a Category 1 at landfall, losses for the insurance industry were cut significantly—to under $5 billion from a potential loss of $20 billion," Wells Fargo analyst Elyse Greenspan said.
"Coastal Property Insurance Pool, which is a state-created last resort option for insurance, has more than 32,700 claims in hand, Ms. Schwitzgebel said. The claims are largely for roof repairs, replacements of broken windows and some structural damage to homes from fallen trees."
"USAA, one of the biggest insurers in the Carolinas, is up to 38,000 Florence claims.It had roughly 49,000 claims from Harvey." This is largely due to the large number of military members living in the area both on and around the state's Army and Marines bases.
"State Farm, the biggest home insurer by market share in North Carolina, said it had received about 12,400 homeowner claims and 1,900 automobile claims in North Carolina related to Hurricane Florence as of Sept. 20. Policyholders in South Carolina, where it also is a top insurer, had filed 1,610 home and 500 auto claims."