Hurricane Harvey's Economic Toll

According to new estimates collected by the New York Times, Hurricane Harvey could be one of the most expensive natural disasters in the history of the United States. Many climate experts believe the storm could cost the country anywhere between $70 billion and $108 billion. Although these are early numbers, there is a general consensus that the cost of Harvey will likely surpass that of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which caused about $70.2 billion worth of damage. It is also likely that these estimates will increase as more data is collected, since there are many costs in the wake of superstorms that are not immediately apparent.

Most of the organizations cited in the article, such as Risk Management Solutions and Enki Research, suggest total costs that are within the range represented in the chart above, but others believe it may be even higher. One expert from Accuweather predicts that Hurricane Harvey could cost as much as $190 billion. If this proves to be true then Harvey will be more expensive than the devastating Hurricane Katrina of 2005, which cost the United States about $160 billion (adjusted for inflation), making it the most expensive natural disaster in recorded American history.

Since Hurricane Irma has also recently caused devastation in the Southeast, the total economic toll of hurricanes is rapidly rising in the United States; an analyst at Enki Research estimates that the cost of this new storm could be $172 billion. However, the true cost of both of these storms will not be known until official figures are released by the National Centers for Environmental Information, which may not happen for a month or more.


Kaitlyn Bieniek