AIR: Laura insured losses up to $8bn
Insurance industry losses to property damaged by Hurricane Laura, which struck the United States last week, have been estimated at between $4 billion and $8 billion.
The Category 4 hurricane made landfall on Thursday in Louisiana, near the border with Texas.
Catastrophe risk modelling firm AIR Worldwide estimated the losses to onshore property as a result of the hurricane’s storm surge of about 15 feet, heavy rain and sustained winds of more than 130 miles per hour.
Dr Cagdas Kafali, senior vice-president of research, AIR Worldwide, said: “Although comparisons between Laura and Hurricane Rita (in 2005) have been made, they differ in two important ways: Rita was a larger storm and hit a more populous area than Laura did.
“Rita made landfall west of where Laura did, impacting population centres of Texas; Laura made landfall well east of Houston and west of New Orleans, keeping losses lower.”
The storm passed across Louisiana and then into Arkansas, but tracked through relatively lower populated ares, AIR said.
Wind damage was greatest in Louisiana, particularly in areas closer to the eyewall near landfall. Reports showed damage from torn off roofs and facades to structures that were destroyed, along with upended vehicles, damage to power lines, roads, railways, and other infrastructure.
The hurricane’s winds diminished after landfall but remained at hurricane strength for nearly half the day, pummelling the region for hours as the storm’s centre traversed north.
Dr Kafali said: “Residential buildings in and around Lake Charles saw significant damage to roofs of all geometries and with various roof cover types. Residential building envelopes were breached due to debris impacts and the damage was further exacerbated in many cases due to the impacts of storm surge. Residential homes in Louisiana are founded primarily on crawlspace and slab foundations, both of which are vulnerable when it comes to flood damage.”
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