While the season’s first major hurricane may have underperformed and not caused the widespread destruction some media outlets portrayed, Hurricane Irene’s impact was significant nevertheless. Dozens of lives have been lost as a result of the storm and initial damage estimates indicate the storm will become the nation’s 10th billion dollar disaster of the year.
As the storm passed over Bermuda, forecasters put the storm on a track that would impact tens of millions of people along the East Coast. The forecast track held true even if the intensity of the storm failed to reach what was expected.
- Slideshow: Hurricane Irene pummels the U.S. East Coast
- Video: Timelapse video tour of Manhattan as Hurricane Irene hits
At latest report, 26 people across eight states stretching from Florida to Connecticut lost their lives as a result of Hurricane Irene. With assessments continuing and flooding across New England expected to peak soon, the toll may very well climb higher.
In all, one person was killed in Maryland and two people were killed in each of the states of Connecticut, Florida, and New Jersey. Four fatalities were recorded in New York and Virginia. Pennsylvania recorded five dead and North Carolina six.
Damage from Irene was seen across much of the East Coast, primarily in the form of wind damage and flood losses. Insured losses are expected to total near $7 billion with a total economic impact of up to $20 billion.
Should the forecast losses hold true, Hurricane Irene will become the nation’s 10th billion dollar or greater disaster of 2011. In doing so the year will likely set a record for the most billion dollar disasters in a single year besting the previous record holder, 2008. Not including Irene, $35 billion in damage has been seen in the U.S. so far this year.
2011’s Billion Dollar Disasters – from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC)
- Hurricane Irene, August 2011 (tentative)
- Upper Midwest Flooding, Summer, 2011
- Mississippi River flooding, Spring-Summer, 2011
- Southern Plains/Southwest Drought, Heatwave, & Wildfires, Spring-Summer, 2011
- Midwest/Southeast Tornadoes, May 22-27, 2011
- Southeast/Ohio Valley/Midwest Tornadoes, April 25-30, 2011
- Midwest/Southeast Tornadoes, April 14-16, 2011
- Southeast/Midwest Tornadoes, April 8-11, 2011
- Midwest/Southeast Tornadoes, April 4-5, 2011
- Groundhog Day Blizzard, Jan 29-Feb 3, 2011
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