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Hurricane Irene Damage Could Top $7 Billion

During the last weekend in August, Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast with wind and rain, causing flooding and an unprecedented shutdown of New York...
May 30, 2011

During the last weekend in August, Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast with wind and rain, causing flooding and an unprecedented shutdown of New York City, which escaped the major force of the strong storm. An ocean surge and rainfall resulted in severe inland flooding in New Jersey, where, according to estimates from Governor Chris Christie, the damage totaled at least $1 billion and could be as much as tens of billions of dollars. Hurricane Irene, a massive storm that moved slowly along 1,100 miles of the Eastern Seaboard, prompted the evacuation of 2.4 million people, caused at least 20 deaths, and devastated an area extending from North Carolina to Vermont.

According to early estimates, damage from Hurricane Irene could total as much as $7 billion, adding to insurers' losses in what is already one of the costliest years in the industry's history. Industry experts expect most of the losses to be from property damage in New York and New Jersey.

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) says that the $7 billion in potential losses would make Irene one of the 10 costliest catastrophes in U.S. history. Hurricane Katrina, the most expensive disaster, caused $45 billion in property damage, not including costs covered by the National Flood Insurance Program. The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001, which the I.I.I. counts as a single event, is the second costliest disaster, with losses totaling approximately $23 billion. All but one of the other 10 most costly disasters were hurricanes, with the losses ranging from $22 billion for Hurricane Andrew in 1992 to $6 billion for Hurricane Rita in 2005. On August 28, Eqecat, a disaster modeling company in Oakland, California, estimated that Hurricane Irene caused between $200 million and $400 million insured losses in the Carolinas.

We're beginning to get reports in from PIA affiliates, we'll be passing along their updates as we receive them. Here are updates for New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and New Hampshire.

The PIA National headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia was not damaged at all as a result of Hurricane Irene and all staff is safe. Last week was unusual, in that it started with an earthquake and ended with a hurricane.

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