Starting with Hurricane Harvey, to Irma and now Maria, the Atlantic is well into its 2017 hurricane season.
This begins on 1 June but is usually worst during mid-August to mid-October when tropical cyclone activity spikes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Timeline for Hurricanes
All this extreme weather has caused huge issues across the Caribbean and the US. Hurricane Irma, in particular, was a category five hurricane, which leads to catastrophic damage and can lead to areas being uninhabitable for weeks, or even months.
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Hurricane Harvey swept from the American South in August, bringing a path of destruction in its wake.
The city of Houston, Texas, was the worst affected: a suspected 30,000 homes are thought to have been destroyed by the floodwaters in and around the city after a total of 20trn gallons of rain fell during the storm.
The state’s governor, Greg Abbot, has estimated that the damage from Harvey will cost around $150bn to $180bn.
This would make it the most expensive storm the US has ever faced, overtaking Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which saw $142bn spent on recovering New Orleans.
A total of $15.25bn in federal funding has been offered by Congress to help rebuild Texas so far.
Irma concentrated most of its efforts in Florida and Georgia in the US, as well as wreaking havoc in the Caribbean.
In the US alone, it is likely the recovery will cost around $50bn. This doesn’t even take into account the losses suffered by the residents and businesses in the areas affected.
In particular, Florida’s tourism industry brings in about $90bn to the state – this figure will be reduced this year after the hurricane.
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Over in the Caribbean, the costs are expected to be slightly less, but no less serious. In total, the storm is thought to have cost around $10bn in damage to the islands.
In Antigua and Barbuda, the country’s minister for tourism, economic development, investment and energy, Asot Michael, told CNN, that he thinks it will cost about $200m to recover.
The damage caused to French islands, such as St Martin, is thought to be over $230m.
The costs for recovery for Caribbean islands could be about to get a lot higher. Hurricane Maria has been given a category five strength, the same as Hurricane Irma was given. The storm is estimated to have maximum sustained winds of 160mph, according to the US’s National Hurricane Centre (NHC).
Hurricane warnings have been issued for: Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat, US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques.
The UK government has allocated £57m to the immediate response effort for Maria and Irma. It has also agreed to match up to £3m of public donations to the Red Cross appeal.
The UK’s international development secretary, Priti Patel, said:
We are under no illusions about the possible impact of Hurricane Maria and are taking every measure possible to prepare communities which have already been devastated by Hurricane Irma. British troops, police and aid experts are working relentlessly to get help to the victims of Hurricane Irma. Those same individuals will now be tasked with also prepared for the impact of Maria, and to ensure support continues to get to those in need.
What about insurance?
2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, was also a really bad year for storms.
After Katrina’s rampage, Hurricanes Rita and Wilma followed shortly after.
According to the Louisiana State University (LSU) Law Center, the insured losses from all three storms in 2005 were estimated by insurance companies to total $57bn.
This wasn’t including the $17bn in claims paid by the National Flood Insurance Program.
At the moment, we only have the figures for Irma’s insured losses. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has said over 335,000 claims have been filed already.
This amounts to nearly $2bn in claims to insurers for damages caused by the storms.
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