Hurricane Ian flooded major cities and devastated homes after making landfall in Florida, but the damage was not done.
After temporarily becoming a tropical storm, Hurricane Ian accelerated to Category 1 on Thursday evening as it tracked toward South Carolina, with a landfall expected on Friday.
In total, economic damage from the hurricane could reach up to $65 billion, according to a projection released Thursday by data firm Enki Research, which studies the financial impact of the storms.
The estimate places the best-case scenario for storm damage at $55 billion, Enki Research said.
The projected costs for Hurricane Ian would be less than half the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, which totaled $161 billion.
The historic storm demolished homes and businesses, damaged infrastructure such as roads and bridges and appears to have harmed citrus fruits which are a key industry in the state.
Florida accounts for 70% of citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits and tangerines, produced in the United States.
Tourism industry facilities in the state, like Disney World and Universal Orlando, temporarily closed as the storm approached earlier this week. On Friday, parks announced they would begin reopening in phases.
President Joe Biden on Thursday approved a major disaster declaration for Florida, allowing additional federal aid to the state.
Speaking on Thursday, Biden pledged his support for state and local officials as they assess damage from the storm, saying the federal government will cover the full cost of clearing debris and rebuilding public buildings like state schools and fire stations.
The government will also provide support to people whose homes have been destroyed or damaged.
More than 8,700 people have registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, for help.
On Wednesday, the then-Category 4 hurricane sustained winds of 150 mph as it made landfall on Florida’s west coast.
The storm slammed into the coastal city of Fort Myers and impacted nearby cities of Tampa Baby and Sarasota, before moving east across the peninsula towards Orlando.
“It’s definitely going to be one of the strongest and most devastating storms,” Chuck Watson, founder of Enki Research and director of research and development, told Bloomberg on Tuesday.
Hurricane Charley, a major storm that hit Florida in 2004, caused damage today estimated to be between $20 billion and $25 billion, Watson said.
Although it caused major damage, Hurricane Ian averted a major disruption to the U.S. oil and gas industry that would have occurred had the storm moved into Texas and Louisiana, officials have previously said. industry analysts at ABC News.
The state does not host any oil refineries and accounts for about 6,000 barrels of oil production every day, said Andy Lipow, longtime oil analyst and president of Lipow Oil Associates.
That production is only a tiny fraction of overall U.S. oil production, which stands at 11.8 million barrels a day, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported this month.
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