Harvey Likely to Be Second-Costliest Natural Disaster Ever in U.S., Behind Hurricane Katrina

Between the shutdown of oil refineries and chemical plants, impaired roads and ports, and widespread damage to homes, businesses and cars, the economic toll from Hurricane Harvey is now being estimated as the second-costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, trailing only the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

A flooded residential neighborhood near Interstate 10 in Houston. (Credit: Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

A flooded residential neighborhood near Interstate 10 in Houston. (Credit: Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Some economic researchers, including the national forecasting firm Moody’s Analytics, are putting the price tag of Harvey at $81 billion to $108 billion or more, most of that in damage to homes and commercial property.

That would be larger than the hit from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 but less than Katrina, which inflicted $175 billion in damage and lost economic activity. By comparison, the economic loss from the Northridge earthquake in 1994 came to about $45 billion, in inflation-adjusted dollars, according to Moody’s.

Although the brunt of Harvey’s cost will be borne in southeast Texas, particularly the sprawling Houston area, the effects will be felt more broadly.

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