Losses from global disasters in 2017 exceeded $300bn

Losses from global disasters in 2017 exceeded $300bn
Economic losses from natural and man-made disasters have soared by 63 percent in 2017 to an estimated $306 billion, according to a report from reinsurance firm Swiss Re.

The company estimates, insured losses from natural and man-made disasters around the world was approximately $136 billion, up from $65 billion in 2016.

This is “well-above the annual average of the previous ten years, and the third highest since… records began in 1970,” Swiss Re said in its report.

The reinsurance firm said insured losses from disasters have exceeded $100 billion in a number of years.

“The insurance industry has demonstrated it can cope very well with such high losses,” said Martin Bertogg, Head of Catastrophe Perils at Swiss Re.

“However, significant protection gaps remain, and if the industry is able to extend its reach, many more people and businesses can become better equipped to withstand the fallout from disaster events,” he added.

According to Swiss Re, “Globally, more than 11,000 people have died or gone missing in disaster events in 2017.”

The US was hardest hit, including by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, “which have made 2017 the second costliest hurricane season” after 2005, the company said.

 hurricane death toll to be recounted as official low figures challenged https://on.rt.com/8v3u 

Puerto Rico hurricane death toll to be recounted as official low figures challenged — RT US News

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The economic losses from the three hurricanes will be much higher given the significant flood damage – often uninsured – from hurricane Harvey in densely populated Houston, Texas, an extended power outage in Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria, and post-event loss amplification.

“There has been a lull in hurricane activity in the US for several years,” said Kurt Karl, Swiss Re’s Chief Economist. “Irrespective, there has been a significant rise in the number of residents and new homes in coastal communities since Katrina, Rita and Wilma in 2005, so when a hurricane strikes, the loss potential in some places is now much higher than it was previously.”

Courtesy: RT

Hurricane Irma Property Damage, Loss Estimates as High as $65 Billion

Hurricane Irma Property Damage, Loss Estimates as High as $65 Billion

Approximately 80 Percent of Estimated Flood Damage is Uninsured

According to CoreLogic, preliminary property loss estimates in Florida from Hurricane Irma, total insured and uninsured loss for both residential and commercial properties, including damage from both flood and wind, is estimated to be between $42.5 billion and $65 billion. Of this, an estimated $13.5 billion to $19 billion in insured loss is attributed to damage from wind for both residential and commercial properties.

Residential Loss

Flood loss for residential properties from Hurricane Irma is estimated at $25 billion to $38 billion. This includes storm surge, inland and flash flooding in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Of this flood total, insured residential flood loss is estimated at $5 billion to $8 billion and uninsured residential flood loss is estimated at $20 billion to $30 billion. As a result, an estimated 80 percent of flood damage to residential properties from Hurricane Irma is not covered by any flood insurance.

Of the total wind damage, an estimated $11 billion to $15 billion represents residential loss. Most damage from hurricane wind is typically covered by private insurers.

Commercial Loss

Insured flood loss for commercial properties is estimated at $4 billion to $8 billion. Data for uninsured flood loss for commercial properties, which could equal or exceed insured loss estimates, is unavailable.

Of the total wind damage, an estimated $2.5 billion to $4 billion represents commercial loss.
Data Highlights:

  • Insured residential flood loss covered by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is estimated at $5 billion to $8 billion, representing one quarter of damaged homes.
  • This includes inland, flash and storm surge flooding.
  • More than 98 percent of residential flood insurance in the U.S. is provided through the NFIP.
  • Uninsured residential flood loss is estimated at $20 billion to $30 billion, representing 80 percent of damaged homes.
  • Insured commercial flood loss is estimated at $4 billion to $8 billion, the majority of which is covered by private insurers with a small percentage covered by NFIP.
  • Insured residential loss from wind damage is estimated at $11 billion to $15 billion.
  • Insured commercial loss from wind damage is estimated at $2.5 billion to $4 billion.

irma-loss-estimates.jpg

COURTESY: WORLD PROPERTY JOURNAL

Five US presidents attend relief concert for hurricane victims

Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have delivered a message of unity. The former presidents have called on their fellow citizens to help the victims of a series of hurricanes.

Benefit concert for victims of hurricanes in Texas attended by Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter

All five living former US Presidents came together on Saturday night to promote a message of hope and unity at a relief concert for the victims of hurricanes that recently ravaged parts of the southern US and the Caribbean.

“As former presidents, we wanted to help our fellow Americans begin to recover,” said Barack Obamaas the concert began at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Obama served as president between 2009 and 2017.

“All of us on this stage here tonight could not be prouder of the response of Americans. When they see their neighbors and they see their friends, they see strangers in need, Americans step up.”

Jimmy Carter, who served in office 1977-1981, George H. W. Bush, 1989-1993, Bill Clinton, 1993-2001, and George W. Bush, 2001-2009, were also in attendance.

“The heart of America, without regard to race or religion or political party, is greater than our problems,” said Clinton.

“People are hurtin’ down here, but as one Texan put it, we’ve got more love in Texas than water,” W. Bush said.

Former first ladies Barbara and Laura Bush were also there as was former vice president Dick Cheney, ex-secretary of state James A. Baker, Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria left death and destruction in their wake as they slammed through parts of Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands in August and September.

The concert was part of an appeal that has raised $31 million (€26 million) from 80,000 donors since September 7. Calling for more donations, Carter said, “let’s all work together and make America a great volunteer nation.”

Current President Donald Trump thanked his predecessors in televised remarks, saying “this wonderful effort reminds us that we truly are one nation under God, all unified by our values and devotion to one another.”

The award-winning pop singer Lady Gaga performed at the concert, which also included appearances from Lee Greenwood, Robert Earl Keen, The Gatlin Brothers, Stephanie Quayle, Sam Moore, Alabama, Lyle Lovett, Cassadee Pope and Yolanda Adams.

“Pain is such an equalizer. And in a time of catastrophe, we all put our differences aside and we come together, ’cause we need each other, or we can’t survive,” Lady Gaga said.

The event was reportedly the first time the five former presidents had been together since they attended a ceremony in 2013 marking the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas, Texas.

amp/aw (dpa, AP, AFP)

Watch video12:07

Puerto Rico after the Storm

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In northwest Puerto Rico, people began returning to their homes after a spillway eased pressure on a dam that cracked after more than a foot of rain fell in the wake of the hurricane.

The opening of the island’s main port in San Juan allowed 11 ships to bring in 1.6 million gallons of water, 23,000 cots, dozens of generators and food. Dozens more shipments are expected in upcoming days.

The federal aid effort is racing to stem a growing humanitarian crisis in towns left without fresh water, fuel, electricity or phone service.

Officials with FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is in charge of the relief effort, said they would take satellite phones to all of Puerto Rico’s towns and cities, more than half of which were cut off following Maria’s devastating crossing of Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

The island’s infrastructure was in sorry shape long before Maria struck. A $73 billion debt crisis has left agencies like the state power company broke. As a result the power company abandoned most basic maintenance in recent years, leaving the island subject to regular blackouts.

A federal control board overseeing Puerto Rico’s finances authorized up to $1 billion in local funds to be used for hurricane response, but Gov. Ricardo Rossello said he would ask for more.

“We’re going to request waivers and other mechanisms so Puerto Rico can respond to this crisis,” he said. “Puerto Rico will practically collect no taxes in the next month.”

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez of New York said she will request a one-year waiver from the Jones Act, a federal law blamed for driving up prices on Puerto Rico by requiring cargo shipments there to move only on U.S. vessels as a means of supporting the U.S. maritime industry.

“We will use all our resources,” Velazquez said. “We need to make Puerto Rico whole again. These are American citizens.”

Meanwhile, a group of anxious mayors arrived in San Juan to meet with Rossello to present a long list of items they urgently need. The north coastal town of Manati had run out of fuel and fresh water, Mayor Jose Sanchez Gonzalez said.

“Hysteria is starting to spread. The hospital is about to collapse. It’s at capacity,” he said, crying. “We need someone to help us immediately.”

POWERLESS PUERTO RICO’S STORM CRISIS DEEPENS WITH DAM THREAT

The death toll from Maria in Puerto Rico was at least 10, including two police officers who drowned in floodwaters in the western town of Aguada. That number was expected to climb as officials from remote towns continued to check in with officials in San Juan.

Authorities in the town of Vega Alta on the north coast said they had been unable to reach an entire neighborhood called Fatima, and were particularly worried about residents of a nursing home.

“I need to get there today,” Mayor Oscar Santiago told the Associated Press. “Not tomorrow, today.”

Rossello said Maria would clearly cost more than the last major storm to wallop the island, Hurricane George in September 1998. “This is without a doubt the biggest catastrophe in modern history for Puerto Rico,” he said.

A dam upstream of the towns of Quebradillas and Isabela in northwest Puerto Rico was cracked but had not burst by Saturday afternoon as the water continued to pour out of rain-swollen Lake Guajataca. Federal officials said Friday that 70,000 people, the number who live in the surrounding area, would have to be evacuated. But Javier Jimenez, mayor of the nearby town of San Sebastian, said he believed the number was far smaller.

Secretary of Public Affairs Ramon Rosario said about 300 families were in harm’s way.

The governor said there is “significant damage” to the dam and authorities believe it could give way at any moment. “We don’t know how long it’s going to hold. The integrity of the structure has been compromised in a significant way,” Rossello said.

The 345-yard (316-meter) dam, which was built around 1928, holds back a man-made lake covering about 2 square miles (5 square kilometers). More than 15 inches (nearly 40 centimeters) of rain from Maria fell on the surrounding mountains, swelling the reservoir.

Officials said 1,360 of the island’s 1,600 cellphone towers were downed, and 85 percent of above-ground and underground phone and internet cables were knocked out. With roads blocked and phones dead, officials said, the situation may worsen.

“We haven’t seen the extent of the damage,” Rossello told reporters in the capital. Rossello couldn’t say when power might be restored.

Maj. Gen. Derek P. Rydholm, deputy to the chief of the Air Force Reserve, said mobile communications systems were being flown in, but acknowledged “it’s going to take a while” before people in Puerto Rico will be able to communicate with their families outside the island.

The island’s electric grid was in sorry shape long before Maria struck. The territory’s $73 billion debt crisis has left agencies like the state power company broke. It abandoned most basic maintenance in recent years, leaving the island subject to regular blackouts.

Rosello said he was distributing 250 satellite phones from FEMA to mayors across the island to re-establish contact.

At least 31 lives in all have been lost around the Caribbean, including at least 15 on hard-hit Dominica. Haiti reported three deaths; Guadeloupe, two; and the Dominican Republic, one.

Across Puerto Rico, more than 15,000 people are in shelters, including some 2,000 rescued from the north coastal town of Toa Baja.

Some of the island’s 3.4 million people planned to head to the U.S. to temporarily escape the devastation. At least in the short term, though, the soggy misery will continue: Additional rain — up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) — is expected through Saturday.

In San Juan, Neida Febus wandered around her neighborhood with bowls of cooked rice, ground meat and avocado, offering food to the hungry. The damage was so extensive, the 64-year-old retiree said, that she didn’t think the power would be turned back on until Christmas.

“This storm crushed us from one end of the island to the other,” she said.

Hour-long lines formed at the few gas stations that reopened on Friday and anxious residents feared power could be out for weeks — or even months — and wondered how they would cope.

“I’m from here. I believe we have to step up to the task. If everyone leaves, what are we going to do? With all the pros and the cons, I will stay here,” Israel Molina, 68, who lost roofing from his San Juan mini-market to the storm, said, and then paused. “I might have a different response tomorrow.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Courtesy, Fox News

Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria, the second megastorm to hit the Caribbean this month, has caused widespread damage in Puerto Rico after pummeling the islands of Dominica and Guadeloupe. Thousands are without power.

Watch video02:13

Still-powerful hurricane Maria pummels Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria blasted through Puerto Rico on Wednesday as the strongest hurricane to hit the US territory in nearly 90 years, wreaking havoc across the island as it advanced.

Packing winds of 250 kilometers per hour (155 miles per hour), the Category 4 storm downed communication towers, damaged homes and burst river banks as it released over 50 centimeters (20 inches) of rain, according to local media.

El Nuevo Dia, a local newspaper, said electricity was out across the island of 3.4 million people. More than 4,400 people were in shelters by late Tuesday, the territory’s Governor Ricardo Rossello said.

“We have not experienced an event of this magnitude in our modern history,” he said. He nevertheless tried to reassure the population: “We are stronger than any hurricane. Together, we will rebuild.”

Rossello asked US President Donald Trump to declare a disaster zone on the island, a move that would allow the territory to access federal emergency relief funds.

Trump has yet to respond to the request, but offered his support on Twitter: “Puerto Rico being hit hard by new monster Hurricane. Be careful, our hearts are with you- will be there to help!”

Watch video01:30

Second megastorm hits Caribbean

Hurricane Maria is expected to hit the Dominican Republic later today.

Dominica incommunicado

The storm’s eye had passed over St. Croix in the Virgin Islands overnight, bringing hours of hurricane force winds. Hundreds of islanders left their homes and fled to shelters. The small island was also battered by Hurricane Irma just two weeks ago.

Maria also roared across Dominica earlier on Tuesday, causing widespread damage and knocking out virtually all communication towers.

Read more: Hurricane Maria rolls over Dominica

Speaking from New York, Dominica’s Consul General Barbara Dailey said she had lost contact with the island at around 4 a.m. Eastern Time (0800 UTC). The latest news she had received from officials in Dominica was that around 70 percent of homes had lost their roofs, including her own.

“I lost everything,” she told The Associated Press news agency. “As a Category 5 it would be naive not to expect any [injuries] but I don’t know how many.”

Dominica’s internet service appeared to have gone completely offline by midday on Tuesday, according to Akamai Technologies, a company that tracks the status of the internet around the world.

The Ross University School of Medicine in Dominica also reported a widespread loss of communication and internet access, while relatives of students reported that they had lost all contact with their loved ones by Monday evening, as Hurricane Maria was bearing down on the island.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit sent out a number of dramatic Facebook posts on Monday night as Maria blew over the island before power was cut off.

“The winds are merciless! We shall survive by the grace of God,” Skerrit posted, before describing how he could hear the sound of steel roofs being torn off houses, including his own. In his last message, he made an appeal for international aid, writing: “We will need help, my friends, we will need help of all kinds.”

Read more:  Caribbean recovers slowly as more storms threaten

A motorist drives on the flooded waterfront in Fort-de-France, on the French Caribbean island of Martinique | Martinique (Getty Images/AFP/L. Chamoiseau)Although damage appeared minimal, both Martinique and Guadeloupe faced severe flooding in the wake of Hurricane Maria

Martinique and Guadeloupe: 40 percent of homes without power

North of Dominica, Hurricane Maria also hit the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe hard.

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said on Tuesday that at least 80,000 households in Guadeloupe and 70,000 in Martinique had been left without power – just under half of all homes across the two islands. However, it appeared the two French islands did not suffer heavy damage.

Maria claimed its first victim in Guadeloupe, where one person was killed and another two were reported missing. Three people were wounded in Martinique, including one seriously, according to Collomb.

The storm comes barely two weeks after Hurricane Irma pounded the Caribbean and Florida, killing around 60 people and leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless.

Karte Infografik Hurricane Maria ENG (DW)

Watch video01:02

Into the eye of the storm

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Caribbean recovers slowly as more storms threaten

Recovery in the Caribbean following Hurricane Irma is slow and more storms are on the way. Cuba was badly hit and a UN program has been launched to help feed those affected. Housing renewal is a priority.

Damage from Hurricane Irma in Havana

The United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP) said on Saturday it was launching a $5.7-million (5.2-million euro) operation in Cuba to help feed 700,000 people in areas most affected by Hurricane Irma, which hit the northern coastline of the Caribbean’s largest island last weekend.

“This hurricane just went down the entire coastline, the volume of impact is just unprecedented,” WFP Executive Director David Beasley said during a visit to Havana, after meeting with Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel.

Hitting the northern coastline of the Caribbean’s largest island, Irma’s winds removed roofs, wrecked the power grid and damaged crops.

Irma was one of the most powerful Atlantic storms in a century and the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in Cuba since 1932.

Sandbags holding back flood water in HavanaSandbags holding back flood water in Havana

 

Housing replacements

In a rare media briefing, city authorities said they were prioritizing Havana’s longstanding housing needs. Euclides Santos, in charge of Havana housing, said that about 50,000 families in total were in need of new housing.

Santos said a plan had been put in place in 2012 to repair and renew housing. “We have delivered 10,000 or so homes so far to people in shelters which means the program is achieving results,” he said. People have been living in communal shelters for many years as the state was unable to fund housing due to financial problems caused by an economic crisis in Cuba after the fall of the Soviet Union and consequences of the US trade embargo.

“There is a strategy to reduce the time families have to spend in these places,” Santos said, adding that around 7,000 people were living in Havana’s 109 shelters. About 25 percent of buildings were in “bad or regular” shape due to the effects of climate, lack of maintenance and the passage of time.

Watch video01:09

Cuba copes with the aftermath of Irma

More bad weather on the way

There were severe weather forecasts from storms which had already hit the Caribbean and some new ones on the way.

Baja California Sur state was readying shelters on Saturday, canceling classes and a military parade and a tropical storm warning was given out for Los Cabos due to Hurricane Norma.

Hurricane Jose was moving north out at sea but threatening heavy surf along the US East Coast.

Tropical storm Maria was expected to strengthen into a hurricane and move towards Caribbean islands already hit by Hurricane Irma, including  Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat. It has been forecast to approach the Leeward Islands on Tuesday.

Relief efforts

The French-Dutch island of St Martin was facing problems as fresh running water supplies had still to be restored.

The French minister for overseas affairs, Annick Girardin, said on Saturday “There is an existing problem on the issue of contaminated water, the issue of trash, basically the issue of hygiene.”  In poorer neighbourhoods where many families were not able to evacuate, residents fear the spread of mosquitoes which can carry diseases such as Zika and dengue fever.

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What the world famous Maho Beach at St Martin looks like after hurricane Irma

For the Dutch side of the island, the Dutch Red Cross said Saturday that it had collected 13.3 million euros following a weeklong donation drive.

Watch video01:24

Stunned by the destruction wrought by Hurricane Irma

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6 dead at Florida nursing home due to intense heat, loss of power after Irma

More than 100 people were evacuated from a Florida nursing home Wednesday after six people were reported dead at the Hollywood facility, whose residents were suffering from intense heat caused by a lack of electricity after deadly Hurricane Irma swept through.

Irma may have moved on from Florida, but lingering dangers caused by the storm, including carbon monoxide poisoning and heat-related incidents caused by a lack of air conditioning, remain in the Sunshine State, as millions wait for power to be restored.

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Officials in Hollywood said at least six people died and 115 people were evacuated from Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, located about 20 miles north of Miami.

“We’re conducting a criminal investigation inside,” Hollywood Police Chief Tom Sanchez said. “We believe at this time they may be related to the loss of power in the storm. We’re conducting a criminal investigation, not ruling anything out at this time.”

Sanchez said investigators believe the deaths were heat-related, adding it was a “sad event.”

Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief confirmed three people were pronounced dead at the facility. City officials said three additional people later died at the hospital.

The Hollywood Police and Hollywood Fire Rescue received a call around 4 a.m. at the facility, and found “several patients in varying degrees of medical distress,” city officials said.

Sanchez said officers have been assigned to check 42 assisted living facilities and nursing homes in Hollywood to “make sure they are in sufficient care of the elderly.”

MIAMI POLICE RAMP UP PATROL TO COMBAT LOOTING: ‘I WAS NOT JOKING’

The nursing home did have a generator, but it is unclear if the generator was functional, WSVN reported.

Temperatures in Hollywood were expected to be around 86degrees on Wednesday — but feel about 10 degrees warmer.

A caseworker named Ed, who declined to give his last name, came to the facility Wednesday morning to check on his 80-year-old dementia patient. He told Fox News he isn’t sure yet if she’s one of the dead.

“I’m very concerned. I’m like a family member to her,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Central Florida, three people were found dead inside an Orlando home Tuesday from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning, officials said.

Orange County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jeff Williams told The Associated Press a deputy responded to the the home following a 911 call from what sounded like a juvenile. The deputy was overcome by fumes while approaching the home and called for fire rescue.

Firefighters discovered two people dead inside the house, FOX35 Orlando reported. Another person, who tried to get out of the home, was found dead on the front lawn, while four others from inside the home were taken to a nearby hospital. Rescue workers found a portable gasoline generator running inside the home.

Further north in Daytona Beach, police said one person died and three others were being treated at a hospital Wednesday for carbon monoxide poisoning from an electric generator.

The Daytona Beach Fire Department said on Twitter a generator had been running inside the home.

A neighbor told FOX35 Orlando generators were not allowed in the community, and officials across Florida are warning people to keep generators outside homes.

Carbon monoxide from a generator is also suspected in the death of a man in Miami, while authorities say another dozen people were treated for carbon monoxide-related illnesses on Tuesday in Polk and Brevard counties.

CUSTOMER INQUIRIES CRASH FLORIDA UTILITY’S WEBSITE AND APP

One Miami-area apartment building was evacuated Tuesday after authorities determined a lack of power made it unsafe for elderly tenants, while officers arrived at another retirement community to help people stranded on upper floors who didn’t have access to working elevators.

Elsewhere, a South Florida townhouse that weathered the storm was gutted by fire when power was restored, which caused the stove to ignite items left on the cooktop.

The number of deaths blamed on Irma in Florida climbed to 13 with the carbon monoxide deaths, in addition to four in South Carolina and two in Georgia. At least 37 people were killed in the Caribbean.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but everybody’s going to come together,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said. “We’re going to get this state rebuilt.”

The number of people without electricity in the steamy late-summer heat dropped to 9.5 million — just under half of Florida’s population. Utility officials warned it could take 10 days or more for power to be fully restored. About 110,000 people remained in shelters across the state.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Courtesy, Fox News

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