Hurricane Matthew’s Losses Could Reach $15 Billion

Experts estimate that the losses from Hurricane Matthew may be as high as $15 billion.

The National Weather Service warned that winds, heavy rain, and a storm surge could kill, wash out roads, cut communication links, and cause outages lasting weeks. Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research in Savannah, Georgia, said the evacuation of millions of people could push the cost of the storm to $10 billion to $15 billion mainly in losses caused by economic disruption.

Jonathan Adams and Jeffrey Flynn, analysts at Bloomberg Intelligence,predicted losses to be closer to $5 billion, with Florida bearing the brunt.

“The big thing is that the Northeast gets spared, which is good and bad, because they actually needed the rain, and the Outer Banks too,” said Evan Duffey, a meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. “Regardless, the Bahamas and Florida are going to see a deteriorating situation throughout the day. Landfall is still possible in Florida.”

What to look for:
Insurance: Universal Insurance Holdings Inc., American International Group Inc., Progressive Corp., and Chubb Ltd. operate in Florida. RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd. and Validus Holdings Ltd. are the catastrophe reinsurers in the region, Adams and Flynn wrote.

Power: Bloomberg reports that twelve U.S. power generators, including two nuclear plants, are in the storm’s path, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. One nuclear facility, NextEra Energy Inc.’s Turkey Point in south Florida, is located just outside of the storm’s track. Nuclear operators NextEra Energy and Duke Energy Corp. said they would shut their reactors hours ahead of the onset of hurricane-force winds.

NextEra’s Florida Power & Light utility, the largest in Florida, said as many as 1.2 million customers could lose power.

Orange crop:Donald Keeney, a meteorologist with MDA Weather Services in Gaithersburg, Maryland, said the risk to Florida’s orange crop is “minimal” because the worst weather will be along the coast.

Category 4: “The environment between the Bahamas and Florida is favorable for Matthew to restrengthen some during the next couple of days,” Lixion Avila, a senior hurricane specialist at the center, wrote in an analysis.

“It will likely take another day or so for the potential impacts of Matthew in the United States to fully clarify,” Daniel Brown, the Miami center’s warning-coordination meteorologist, said Wednesday.

There is a chance the eye will come ashore near Cape Canaveral, home toNASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Alan Reppert, a meteorologist with AccuWeather, told Bloomberg. If it does and it maintains its strength, it will be the first major hurricane to strike the United States since 2005, which is the longest the country has gone without such a strike since the 1850s.

For more on Disasters, Homeland Security News Wire

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