The storm caused the heaviest losses of any storm ever to hit Florida, and trailed only Katrina for damage nationally.
Hurricane Ian was responsible for between $53 billion and $74 billion in insured losses, according to data released on Friday by modeling firm RMS, which gave its best estimate for the storm’s damages at $67 billion. The September storm was the costliest hurricane in Florida history and the second most expensive ever to hit the US.
The National Flood Insurance Program may face $10 billion in losses from flooding and the storm surge associated with the Category 4 storm, the company stated.
While storm surges carried away buildings near the shore and torrential rains brought record levels of flooding across Florida’s swampy interior, RMS estimated that hurricane winds as high as 150 miles per hour (240 km/h) were responsible for the lion’s share of the damage. Florida Power & Light warned customers they could be without power for an extended period of time. A week after the storm, some 185,000 customers were still waiting for power to be restored.
Hurricane Ian was also one of the worst storms in terms of its human cost, claiming at least 102 lives as of Friday. US President Joe Biden claimed that Ian might be the “deadliest” storm in Florida history in remarks he gave Thursday after declaring a “major disaster” in the state.
The destruction from last month’s hurricane was dwarfed only by Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005, causing $65 billion in damages – the equivalent of $89.7 billion if adjusted for inflation. While Katrina was the deadliest to hit the US in the 21st century, taking over 1,800 lives, it paled in comparison to the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900, which reportedly killed as many as 8,000 people.
Until Ian, no other storm on record had come close to inflicting levels of property damage comparable to Katrina. The next-costliest was last year’s Hurricane Ida, which caused $36 billion in damages, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Hurricane data collected by the financial services firm Aon suggests that storms have been getting more expensive in recent years, though it’s not immediately clear if that is because the weather itself is more severe or construction is costlier and coastlines have been built up more. Florida in particular saw a huge influx of new residents during the Covid-19 pandemic as families fled tighter restrictions in states such as New York and California for the comparative freedoms of the Sunshine State.
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