Hurricane Florence damage estimated at $17 billion to $22 billion and could go higher

Property damage and disruption from Hurricane Florence is expected to total at least $17 billion to $22 billion, but the estimate could end up being conservative, as the Carolinas continue to face historic rainfalls and flooding, according to Moody’s Analytics.

“We were close to $10 [billion] to $15 billion on Friday. The flooding is more extensive than we had anticipated, and the storm was slow moving. It hung over the Carolinas a lot more than was expected,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. He said the number could be adjusted based on further flooding, as some rivers are not expected to crest until later in the week.

Moody’s said Florence is among the 10 costliest hurricanes.

Economists expect Florence, which came ashore Friday as a Category 1, to have a slight impact on the U.S. economy despite the severe devastation to homes, businesses and vehicles in its path. Florence was quickly downgraded to a tropical storm and is now a tropical depression, but its rainfall of 24 inches was a record for a hurricane, surpassing 1999’s Hurricane Floyd.