Hurricane Florence ranks among top 10 costliest US storms, expert says

As President Trump visits the Carolinas on Wednesday to survey the damage wrought by deadly Hurricane Florence, which swept through the Mid-Atlantic last weekend, one expert predicts the storm could end up ranking among the top ten costliest hurricanes to ever hit the nation.

Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi told FOX Business on Wednesday that the storm could cost between $17 billion and $22 billion – or possibly even more.

“The script is still being written, generally these estimates go up, they don’t go down,” Zandi said.

Florence dropped a record two feet of rain, which has resulted in significant, ongoing flooding problems that could result in more damages.

Moody’s is forecasting that Florence will be the ninth costliest hurricane in U.S. history. By comparison, Hurricane Matthew – a Category 5 storm that hit in 2016 – caused $11 billion in damage, while Hurricane Irma, the Category 4 storm that hit last summer, cost $51 billion.

Hurricane Harvey caused about $128 billion in damages when it struck Texas last year.

Last week, CoreLogic predicted property damage from wind and storm surge alone could cost property owners as much as $5 billion – with the majority of the destruction concentrated in North Carolina.

Risk modeling firm AIR Worldwide estimated that insured losses from winds and storm surge could hit $4.6 billion, as reported by Reuters.

Zandi predicts Florence could shave as much as a 0.2 percentage point off of GDP, which will likely be recovered by the fourth quarter thanks to rebuilding.

“It’s very disruptive and will be very costly for the affected people and businesses in the Carolinas,” he said. “[But the impact on] the national economy is small.”

Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Robert Kaplan told FOX Business last week that, if history is any indication, any effect Florence has on economic output is likely to be “transitory.”

Zandi noted that flooding costs are going to remain problematic as sea levels rise, and will be “the more significant, longer-term cost” that needs to be addressed.

Florence made landfall in the Carolinas on Friday as a Category 1 storm.

Preliminary peak wind gusts recorded in Southeast North Carolina and Northeast South Carolina reached 105 mph and 77 mph, respectively, according to the National Weather Service.

More than 30 people died as a result of the storm.