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Hurricane Matthew recovery may cost up $10B as U.S. assesses the damage

Buckley Miller paddles a canoe past a flooded water treatment plant in downtown Lumberton after Hurricane Matthew caused downed trees, power outages and massive flooding along the Lumber River Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016 in Lumberton, NC. (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP)

For a storm that inflicted less damage than many had feared, Hurricane Matthew nevertheless impaired or destroyed more than 1 million structures, forced businesses from Florida to North Carolina to close and put thousands temporarily out of work. In many affected areas, small-business owners were still assessing the damage. The storm probably caused $10 billion in damage, according to an estimate from Goldman Sachs. Insurance companies are likely to be liable for about $4 billion to $6 billion of that total, according to an estimate Saturday by CoreLogic, a real estate data provider. But the figures suggest that Matthew's effect on the broader national economy would be minimal.

A significant part of the risk is now back on homeowners. And some of that ends up being disaster relief, so taxpayers also get involved more.

Bob Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America

On Tuesday, the United States said it has temporarily suspended deportations of Haitians after the hurricane ravaged the Caribbean nation last week, killing more than 500. Last month, the U.S. announced that in response to a surge in Haitian immigration across the Mexican border, it would end special protections put in place after a 2010 earthquake devastated Haiti.

We will have to deal with that situation, address it, be sympathetic to the plight of the people of Haiti as a result of the hurricane.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, at an event in Mexico City
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Hurricane Sandy

By comparison, Hurricane Sandy, the second-worst storm since World War II, caused $15 billion to $20 billion in insured losses and $50 billion to $60 billion in overall damage in 2012. Though damage estimates are usually revised higher after more comprehensive assessments, the current figures would still make Hurricane Matthew the 22nd-worst storm in nearly 70 years.

Hurricane Matthew

On October 3, the governors of Florida and North Carolina declared a state of emergency. The next day, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley recommended an evacuation for those residents living within one hundred miles of the coast. Interstate 26 in South Carolina eastbound between the coast and Columbia was reversed on Wednesday to facilitate movement away from the Lowcountry and Charleston areas.

2010 Haiti earthquake

The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake, with an epicenter near the town of Léogâne(Ouest), approximately 25 km west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time(21:53 UTC) on Tuesday, 12 January 2010.By 24 January, at least 52 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or greater had been recorded.