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'Historic' Hurricane Florence caused more damage than Matthew and Floyd combined, governor says

Richard Stradling and Abbie Bennett, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) on

Published in Weather News

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The state of North Carolina now estimates that Hurricane Florence did nearly $17 billion in damage to homes, businesses, farms and governments in the state, and that as much as half of that may not be covered by private insurance or government aid.

The state had initially estimated $13 billion in damages as a result of the storm, which made landfall the morning of Sept. 14 and dumped record amounts of rain during a six-day slog across the state. The updated estimates, made late last week, are based more on actual inspections and still may be revised upward.

The latest estimates from the state Department of Insurance mean that the physical and economic harm caused by Hurricane Florence has outstripped the combined damages of two previous storms, hurricanes Matthew and Floyd. Matthew did an estimated $4.8 billion in damage in 2016, while Floyd, which caused similar flooding in Eastern North Carolina in 1999, did between $7 billion and $9.4 billion, when adjusted for inflation, according to Gov. Roy Cooper.

The state estimates that private insurance will cover $4.8 billion in storm losses from Florence. The federal government has pledged $2.5 billion in aid, and the Cooper administration has proposed spending $750 million, on top of $56 million approved by the General Assembly during a special session in early October. That leaves an estimated $8.8 billion in uncovered costs, according to Cooper's office.

Cooper expects that the state could be eligible for as much as $5 billion more in federal aid.

According to the state, the damages caused by Hurricane Florence have topped $16.7 billion and are concentrated in three areas:

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? Businesses: More than 3,800 private businesses and nonprofit properties suffered water damage; more than 23,000 had wind damage. Including lost business, the total costs come to an estimated $5.7 billion.

? Housing: About 1.2 million households were affected by the storm. Damage to buildings and belongings and other expenses, including temporary housing, comes to an estimated $5.6 billion.

? Agriculture: Crop and livestock losses and damaged farm buildings and equipment come to an estimated $2.4 billion.

Residents of 34 counties are eligible for assistance from the federal government, including Chatham, Durham and Guilford counties that were recently added to the list. In the Triangle, Johnston, Harnett, Lee and Orange are also on the federal disaster list, but not Wake.

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