Factbox: Cost estimates of Storm Irene on states

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 01, 2011 7:53 PM
Factbox: Cost estimates of Storm Irene on states

(Reuters) - Catastrophe modeling company Eqecat, whose software is used by insurers to predict exposure to disasters, estimated the economic losses in the United States from Hurricane Irene at more than $10 billion.

See Storm map: http://link.reuters.com/zyw43s

Irene was the 10th weather-related disaster resulting in $1 billion or more in damage so far this year, the highest annual number of big disasters in 31 years, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

See graphic: http://r.reuters.com/vak53s

The following are the preliminary estimates of costs and economic damage left in the wake of Irene on a state-by-state basis of affected areas.

CONNECTICUT

No estimates available.

DELAWARE

The state fared well despite some after-effects from the storm, according to the Delaware Tourism Office.

Attractions in the state, including most coastline towns and resort areas, were reported back in business and ready for the Labor Day holiday. "Travel conditions are now back to normal and vacationers are welcome and encouraged to enjoy the upcoming holiday," Governor Jack Markell said on Wednesday.

MAINE

No estimates available.

MARYLAND

No estimates available.

MASSACHUSETTS

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency spokesman Peter Judge said on Tuesday the state still does not have cost estimates. Preliminary damage assessment teams will venture out in the latter part of this week to start to put an early dollar figure on the hurricane damage,

Between last Wednesday and Tuesday, Cape Cod and the islands are estimated to have lost about two-thirds of their normal hospitality business, amounting to about $35 million, according to Wendy Northcross, chief executive of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce. Northcross said that some of the losses are being made up as residents who lost power seek out hotels, and restaurants are packed.

"I hate to say it, but we are also getting people who say, "We were planning on going to Vermont but we're thinking of changing our plans."

NEW JERSEY

New Jersey is one of the hardest-hit states, partly because of its vulnerability to flooding. The price tag for damage could be substantial, perhaps in the "billions of dollars," Governor Chris Christie said last Sunday.

Late on Wednesday, President Barack Obama declared a major disaster exists in the state. The declaration authorizes federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by the storm. The disaster declaration also makes federal funding available to flood-stricken people and businesses in the counties of Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic, and Somerset.

On Sunday, Obama will travel to Paterson to view the damage caused by Irene.

While Atlantic City casino resorts have reopened, many hotels and restaurants along the shore worried that the Labor Day holiday may be a bust rather than a boon this year even as they reopen for business.

NEW YORK

As a result of the record heavy rains caused by Irene, historic flooding occurred in the upstate region.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday estimated total state damage at around $1 billion. Speaking at a news conference alongside U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Craig Fugate, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he said about 600 homes had been destroyed.

On Wednesday, Obama approved New York's request for an "expedited major disaster declaration" to cope with the widespread damage caused by Irene.

"The public assistance would reimburse communities for the costs incurred for debris removal and emergency protective actions taken in response to Hurricane Irene," Cuomo said.

On Thursday, New York's Financial Services Commissioner Ben Lawsky told insurance companies to honor their policies. He said that since Irene was not a hurricane when it reached the state, hurricane deductibles do not apply to homeowners.

"No insurer should even think about not honoring its commitments under a flood insurance policy," Lawsky said. "Homeowners are suffering terribly from this storm and we will continue to ensure that insurers do not abuse those they insure by not paying flood insurance or by forcing homeowners to pay big hurricane deductibles that just don't apply."

NORTH CAROLINA

Storm damage costs in North Carolina are expected to top $150 million, the office of Governor Bev Perdue said in a statement late on Thursday.

It said preliminary assessments indicated Irene had caused more than $70 million in damage for personal losses in the state, more than $40 million in debris-removal costs and more than $37 million in crop damage.

On Wednesday, Obama approved North Carolina's request for a major disaster declaration.

The governor's office raised the state's official death toll from Irene to seven on Tuesday after she visited storm-ravaged areas with Napolitano and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Farming and agribusiness in North Carolina are a $70 billion industry, and 75 percent of the industry is in the state's eastern counties hit by the storm just at the start of the harvest season.

Hotel operators, restaurants and vacation-home renters in North Carolina's Outer Banks also worried that large numbers of tourists will skip a Labor Day-weekend visit to the resort region, even as parks and other attractions reopened.

PENNSYLVANIA

No estimates available.

RHODE ISLAND

Rhode Island Governor's spokeswoman Christine Hunsinger did not have any cost/damage estimates. She expected a briefing would be held but could give no timeframe on Tuesday.

VERMONT

The hardest-hit of the Northeastern states, Vermont does not yet have estimates. Some 260 roads were damaged or washed away. Agriculture and tourism are its largest industries.

"We're still gathering that information and assessing it," said Vicky Parra Tebbetts, senior vice president of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce. "I don't anticipate whole towns are going to be stranded and cut off from the rest of the world for months on end but the long-term repair of roads is another issue."

Jerry Goldberg, executive director of the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce, one area hit hard by flooding, said on Tuesday most downtown Brattleboro businesses will not be affected by the flooding in terms of lost inventory or direct impact. But he said tourism will be affected for a long time because people will have difficulty moving around the state.

"The real devastation is to our roads and bridges ...," he said. "The impact of all of that is yet to be felt."

VIRGINIA

The state's emergency management agency told Reuters on Tuesday that damage assessment teams were going out and that by the end of the week they may have a better idea about when estimates would be available.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Mayor Vincent Gray said the nation's capital "fared relatively well."

The city's chief financial officer received a request from the mayor for $10 million from the city's emergency contingency fund for recovery from both Irene and the earthquake that hit the city last week. The money will be released quickly, according to a CFO spokesman.

The dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial was postponed from Sunday. But lost tourism-related revenue will not show up in the city's sales tax reports until October.

(Reporting by Joan Gralla, Ben Berkowitz, Chip Barnett and Dan Wiessner in New York, Lisa Lambert in Washington, Michael Connor and Tom Brown in Miami, and Toni Clarke, Lauren Keiper in Boston and Karen Pierog in Chicago; Editing by Carol Bishopric)