Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Florida Storms Cutting a Wide Economic Path ; Recovery Effort Will Buoy Some Industries, but Many Are Hit Hard by the Hurricanes

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Florida Storms Cutting a Wide Economic Path ; Recovery Effort Will Buoy Some Industries, but Many Are Hit Hard by the Hurricanes

Article excerpt

Hurricane Frances may have almost doubled the estimated recovery cost for Florida as relief officials gear up to deal with the devastation of two hurricanes striking the same state within three weeks.

As the first rays of sunlight in days break out across the Sunshine State, hard-hit residents are beginning the grim task of assessing damage - while drying out rain-soaked carpets, furniture, and clothing. They are also facing long lines for necessities such as food, water, ice, and gasoline.

At the same time, state and federal officials are beginning to fan out across the impact zone to make an official survey of the damage. Their job won't be easy: Most hurricanes leave behind a clearly visible path of destruction, but hurricane Frances was so large that its destructive impact seems to be almost as wide and long as the state of Florida.

Arriving just weeks into what had been a well-organized regional recovery effort in the wake of hurricane Charley, the latest hurricane now presents officials with the challenge of mounting a statewide recovery effort. As if that wasn't enough, hurricane forecasters say a new storm, hurricane Ivan, is headed in the general direction of south Florida and could arrive as early as this weekend.

Gov. Jeb Bush acknowledges that the economic challenges to his state are substantial. But he insists: "We'll rebound."

The overall cost of insured losses for both hurricanes Frances and Charley could range from $9 billion to as much as $20 billion, according to estimates by two risk forecasting firms.

Although the storms were quite different in size and intensity, the cost of destruction could end up being similar, the risk forecasts suggest. Hurricane Charley, with winds of 140 miles per hour, was a much more potent storm than hurricane Frances, with top winds in the 100 mile-per-hour range. But hurricane Frances was more than three times as large as hurricane Charley.

"You are not going to find [in the wake of Frances] very many areas like Punta Gorda" where Charley caused nearly total devastation, says Michael Gannon of AIR Worldwide Corp., a Boston- based risk forecasting company.

"There will be pockets of damage, but since the storm was so large those areas will add up," he says. "There will be a lot of claims for a very wide area of Florida."

In addition to roughly $6 billion to $10 billion in insured losses from Charley, Floridians are facing an additional $5 billion to $10 billion in losses from Frances, according to AIR Worldwide. A similar forecasting firm, Risk Management Solutions of Newark, Calif., places the cost of Frances slightly lower, at $3 billion to $6 billion, in addition to $6 billion to $8 billion for insured losses from Charley.

The estimates represent only insured losses. Uncounted in the estimates is damage to roads, bridges, and other public infrastructure, along with the cost of business disruptions. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.