CEDAR KEY, Fla. – As recovery efforts from Hurricane Idalia kick into high gear across parts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, early estimates have suggested the final price tag for the major cyclone could reach between $12 billion to $20 billion.
The figure was published in Moody’s Analytics weekly economic outlook and said the figure accounts for damage and lost economic input throughout the region.
Hurricane Idalia made landfall as a Category 3 storm on Wednesday along Florida’s Big Bend before impacting communities across the Southeast with flooding and damaging winds.
If initial estimates are accurate, the hurricane would rank near the bottom of a list of the ten costliest hurricanes to strike the Sunshine State.
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"The fast-moving nature of the hurricane and its path after landfall also helped to prevent a worst-case scenario. Slower moving weather systems are far more costly given their potential to lash an area for an extended period with damaging wind and flood-inducing rain." Moody’s Analytics said in its outlook. "But Idalia was out to sea within about 24 hours of making landfall, helping to prevent the sort of catastrophic inland flooding that can occur with slower-moving systems that weaken over land."
Flooding around Tampa and Charleston, South Carolina, was highlighted by analysts as being costly and warned that if homeowners did not have supplemental flood insurance coverage, many could be forced to pay out of pocket.
The last billion-dollar hurricane to strike the Sunshine State was Nicole in 2022. According to a NOAA estimate, the Category 1 cyclone produced $1 billion in damage in the U.S. and came just over a month after Hurricane Ian produced $115 billion in damage.
"Idalia may not go down in history as an especially costly event, but as climate change leads to more frequent storms that can intensify rapidly, events like it will grow more common over time," the Moody’s Analytics author stated.
The estimate includes the loss of economic output, which was expected to be between $2 billion and $4 billion.
The financial services company said some consumers took advantage of airline credits and canceled vacation plans even though most major tourist attractions stayed open.
President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Florida on Thursday that will make federal funding available for more than half a dozen counties in the Big Bend region.