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Cost of Two Giant Hurricanes Could Reach $290 Billion

Property damage isn’t the only issue in play. Harvey has already hurt the job market, and Irma could exacerbate the problem. That could knock down short-term economic growth
Pictures show Irma pounding Florida. Hurricane Irma is causing  damage from all three factors–wind,  flooding from heavy rain and damage from the sea in different places in Florida.Pictures show Irma pounding Florida. Hurricane Irma is causing  damage from all three factors–wind,  flooding from heavy rain and damage from the sea in different places in Florida.

It has been a destructive and costly hurricane season, following the historic impacts from hurricane Harvey and now hurricane Irma. This is the first time in the history of record keeping that two Category 4 or higher hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, have struck the US mainland in the same year and that too within two weeks of each other.

"That is extraordinary by itself," Dr. Joel N. Myers, AccuWeather founder, president and chairman, said. "And also unprecedented is that this particular storm, Irma, has sustained intensity for the longest period of time of any hurricane or typhoon in any ocean of the world since the satellite era began," Myers said, AccuWeather.com reported.

Hurricane Harvey decimated parts of Texas and damaged southwest Louisiana when it hit the region late last month, destroying billions of dollars worth of property. Now, Hurricane Irma is tearing through Florida.

"We believe the damage estimate from Irma to be about $100 billion. This amounts to 0.5 of a percentage point of the GDP of $19 trillion," Myers said.

"We estimated that Hurricane Harvey is to be the costliest weather disaster in US history at $190 billion or one full percentage point of the GDP. Together, AccuWeather predicts these two disasters amount to 1.5 of a percentage point of the GDP," Myers added.

Property damage isn't the only issue in play. Harvey has already hurt the job market, and Irma could exacerbate the problem. That could knock down short-term economic growth.

Burglary and Looting

Hurricane Irma, now a Category 1 storm with top sustained winds of 85 mph, was battering Orlando early Monday morning after lashing southern Florida and moving across the center of the state, Yahoo reported.

The storm’s center was located near Lakeland, Florida, as of early Monday morning at 2 am, moving north of Tampa and Orlando at a fast pace of 14 miles per hour.

More than four million people were without power in Florida and many towns and cities imposed curfews. Miami-Date police said early Monday they arrested 28 people for burglary/looting. Fort Lauderale police also said they arrested several looters.

Irma struck south Florida with powerful wind, rain and flooding, swamping parts of Naples and Miami on opposite coasts before moving north over the center of the state. A storm surge of 10 feet was recorded in the Florida Keys and Naples reported a 7-foot storm surge in at least one location, according to the National Weather Service.

The National Hurricane Center said it expected the storm’s center to remain inland over Florida and then move into Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee where heavy rain and possible flash floods will be a major concern.

The NHC says the storm is still life-threatening with dangerous storm surge, wind and heavy rains. Storm surge warnings were in effect for parts of Florida, including North Miami Beach, the Florida Keys and Tampa Bay.

These types of storms cause extremely hazardous conditions, including flying objects, fallen trees, downed power lines, which carry the potential for electrocution, broken window glass on homes and cars and damage to roofs and other structures. Storm surge will be another major threat, Myers said.

"The period of damaging winds will last longer than normal. The size of the storm combined with its slow movement means that hurricane-force wind gusts in some places will occur over a time period of 12 or more hours, so the damage will be compounded," Myers said.

Hurricane Irma will cause damage from all three factors–wind, flooding from heavy rain and damage from the sea in different places in Florida.

The storm will weaken once it gets through the Florida Panhandle and Georgia, but the harmful, life-threatening effects of the storm could last into Wednesday or Thursday north of Florida.

The life-threatening impacts will include rain and flooding Tuesday through Wednesday, and possibly into Thursday, across Georgia, northeastern Alabama, the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, and perhaps as far north as Kentucky and the mountains of West Virginia.

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