States and localities tally cost of Hurricane Irene

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 28, 2011 11:19 AM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - As the East Coast continues to feel the deadly wrath of Hurricane Irene, state and local governments have started to assess the monetary damages left in its wake.

In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie said he expected the costs to be astronomically high.

"I've got to imagine that the damage estimates are going to be in the billions of dollars, if not in the tens of billions of dollars," Christie said on Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" program.

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency said it has begun its damage assessment of states affected by the hurricane that left at least nine people dead.

"We are starting assessments in North Carolina," FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said on Sunday. "And we'll be working up the coast as conditions improve and the governors and their teams go out and start looking at the damages."

Fugate, speaking on "Meet the Press," declined to estimate the dollar value of the damage. He did say states that receive a federal disaster declaration will get federal assistance to defray the cost of storm preparations.

Catastrophe modeling company EQECAT estimated that Irene caused between $200 million and $400 million in insured losses in North and South Carolina, with the bulk of those losses in North Carolina. EQECAT expects to release loss estimates for more states on Monday.

(Additional reporting by Ben Berkowitz in New York and David Morgan in Washington; Editing by Maureen Bavdek)