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Economic cost of Harvey, Irma could be US$290 bn: forecaster

Friday, September 15, 2017

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — The combined economic cost of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma could reach US$290 billion, equivalent to 1.5 per cent of the US gross domestic product, US forecaster AccuWeather said in a report Sunday.

“We believe the damage estimate from Irma to be about US$100 billion — among the costliest hurricanes of all time,” said the firm's CEO and Founder Joel Myers.

Harvey, which battered Texas and parts of Louisiana in late August, will be “the costliest weather disaster in US history at US$190 billion or one full percentage point of GDP” which stands at US$19 trillion.

The report said it arrived at the figure by calculating disruptions to business; increased unemployment rates for significant periods of time; damage to transport and infrastructure; crop loss including a 25 per cent drop of orange crop; increased costs of fuels including gasoline, heating oil and jet fuel; household damage and loss of valuable documentation.

Only a fraction of the losses would be covered by insurance, said Myers.

Irma struck the Florida Keys archipelago earlier Sunday before barrelling north, bearing down on the city of Tampa on the west coast of the Florida peninsula and crossing to the east coast.

Harvey made landfall in Texas in late August, causing severe damage to property and paralysing the country's fourth-largest city, Houston, with major flooding.