Total damage and economic loss from Hurricane Ida will fall between $70 billion and $80 billion, Accuweather’s Dr. Joel N. Myers said Monday.
The weather service, which predicted significant wind damage along with storm surge and inland flooding with mass power outages, believes the power outages could last for a week or longer and will result in a near complete shutdown of New Orleans and surrounding cities and towns, Meyers said.
"Power outages will exacerbate extreme discomfort" caused by heat and humidity and will result in mold growth in impacted areas, he added, in addition to issues for people who rely on electronic medical equipment, such as CPAP machines.
In addition, Myers said, "damage to Louisiana’s emergency response system will also add to economic losses as well as damage sustained by hospitals, already overrun with COVID-19 patients."
However, Louisiana will not be the only state affected by the storm, as areas hit by previous hurricanes Fred and Henri like Mississippi and Tennessee will also experience additional flooding which may be extensive and dangerous in some areas as rapidly rising water will continue to be hazardous to lives and properties in those areas causing infrastructure damage and disruption to lives.
As Ida leaves the area and is no longer a hurricane, its remnants as a tropical depression will continue to pose a very serious threat as torrential rains and flooding are possible all the way up into the Appalachians and the mid-Atlantic states.
"Oil production and refining along the Gulf Coast will certainly be impacted," Myers said, adding "the hurricane has had the effect of increasing the ‘crack spread,’ or the difference between the price of crude oil and the petroleum products produced from it, such as gasoline and home heating oil."
"This is because a significant amount of the refinery capacity in Louisiana and has been offline, and some refineries may remain offline for a significant amount of time," he said. "Increases to the price of gasoline create a negative impact on the economy."
Myers also stressed the potential long-term impact on New Orleans business and tourism losses.
"As a key port city in the Mississippi River, New Orleans will experience significant delays. This will affect the supply chain and impact the entire U.S. economy in various ways as New Orleans is a major conduit of commerce," said Myers. "Tourism to New Orleans will be impacted as it was following Hurricane Katrina 16 years ago, with travelers opting for other destinations."
Myers, who has been studying the economic impact of severe weather for more than 50 years, said both Ida and 2020's Laura each caused $25-30 billion in total damage and economic loss. Both made landfall as Category 4 hurricanes, although Ida’s track was much farther east and impacted significantly more people, which contributed to the higher damage estimate.
Myers added often the areas hardest hit, do not report the full extent of the damage immediately, so the extreme level of destruction may increase.
Myers’ estimate is based on an analysis incorporating independent methods to evaluate all direct and indirect impacts of the storm and includes both insured and uninsured losses. It is based on a variety of sources, statistics and unique techniques AccuWeather uses to estimate the damage.
The criteria include damage to property and businesses as well as their contents and cars, job and wage losses, infrastructure damage, auxiliary business losses, travel disruption, food spoilage and medical expenses.
In addition, the estimate also accounts for the costs of power outages to businesses and individuals, for economic losses because of highway closures and evacuations, emergency management and the extraordinary government expenses for and cleanup operations and the long-term effects on the supply chain, the oil and natural gas industries, transportation, tourism and the tail health effects resulting from flooding and the disease caused by standing water.