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Texas Governor Estimates Hurricane Harvey Losses to Reach $180 Billion | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A flood survivor comforts his wife after being rescued from their home flooded by Hurricane Harvey in Orange, Texas, on August 30. (Reuters)

Houston – Texas Governor Greg Abbott estimated damage caused by Hurricane Harvey at $150 billion to $180 billion, 20 times more than the $7.85 billion initially requested by President Donald Trump last week from Congress.

In an interview with Fox News, Abbott said: “The geographical area and people affected by this terrible hurricane and flood are much bigger than those affected by Hurricane Katrina, and require more than $120 billion,”

Victims, whose insurance does not cover most of the damage caused by Harvey, turned to the US Federal State to help them cope with their losses.

From homes filled with muddy water and fully-damaged cars to broken electrical networks and damaged infrastructure, the cost of hurricane damage in Texas and part of Louisiana is expected to be among the top five recorded in US history. The White House said 100,000 homes had been damaged by the disaster.

“It will take at least a year before we can collect enough data to determine Harvey’s impact and accurately identify the storm’s results,” said Chuck Watson, founder of Inky Research agency. Watson estimated the damage two days ago at $ 78 billion.

In Texas, the country’s second largest state and the most important oil region, the hurricane caused a loss of $58 billion, according to a team of German experts of natural disasters.

The Insurance Information Institute mentioned that few homeowners in the United States (12 percent) and slightly more in the South (14 percent) had insurance against water damage in 2016, which means that victims might find themselves without the government assistance.

Furthermore, the disaster’s victims have no choice but to turn to the state agencies such as the Federal Emergency Agency (FEMA) and the National Flood Insurance Program, which is supposed to secure the biggest share of the repairs.

The National Flood Insurance Program’s spokesman said the fund received more than 427,000 assistance requests. More than 117,000 people and homes have gotten approvals for assistance worth more than $76 million.

For its part, the anti-floods program registered 51,000 applications in Texas, and pointed out that aid ranging between $5,000 and $10,000 will be launched.

The White House said on Friday it would ask Congress to allocate about $8 billion to help victims of the storm.

Following Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico in 2005, the federal state allocated about $100 billion for rescue and repair. Hurricane Katrina killed 1,800 people.
Along with the government aid, a number of celebrities, including singer Beyoncé, actress Sandra Bullock and American football player J.J. Watt, have announced donations to support the victims.

Michael Dell, one of the IT industry leaders, and his wife donated $18 million to launch the Texas Reconstruction Fund. Trump promised to personally donate $1 million.

Apart from physical damages, Barclays’ economists said on Friday that Harvey could cause a drop of 1 or 1.5 point in the US economic growth in the third quarter of 2017.