Business

Hurricane Ian could cause $75 billion in damage

NEW YORK — Hurricane Ian flooded cities and devastated homes across Florida and coastal South Carolina, leaving destruction in its wake.

Search-and-rescue missions are ongoing as the death toll climbed to 85 on Sunday, based on information from local officials. Meanwhile, residents and officials assessed the damage incurred by the storm.

In all, the economic damage wrought by the hurricane could reach up to $75 billion, according to a projection released on Saturday by data firm Enki Research, which studies the financial impact of storms.

The estimate put the best-case scenario for storm damage at $66 billion, Enki Research said. The median projection of cost amounts to $71 billion, according to computer models used by the data firm.

Hurricane Ian will be among the 10 costliest storms in U.S. history, Enki Research said, adding that it may end up among the five costliest after the damage is fully assessed.

However, the projected costs for Hurricane Ian would amount to less than half of the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, which totaled $161 billion.

Hurricane Ian demolished homes and businesses, damaged infrastructure like roads and bridges and harmed citrus fruit trees that make up a key industry in the state.

Florida accounts for 70% of citrus fruits -- such as oranges, grapefruits and tangerines -- produced in the U.S.

Fixtures of the state's tourism industry, like Disney World and Universal Orlando, temporarily closed as the storm approached earlier this week. On Friday, the parks announced that they would begin to reopen in phases.

President Joe Biden on Friday said destruction from Hurricane Ian could end up among the nation's most severe.

"We're just beginning to see the scale of that destruction," he said, adding that the damage is "likely to rank among the worst" in U.S. history.

On Thursday, Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Florida, allowing additional federal aid to flow to the state.

Speaking on Thursday, Biden vowed support for state and local officials as they assess the damage caused by the storm, saying the federal government will cover the full cost of clearing debris and of rebuilding public buildings like schools and state fire stations.

The government will also be providing support to people with destroyed or damaged homes.

On Wednesday, the then-Category 4 hurricane sustained wind speeds of 150 mph as it made landfall on Florida's west coast. The storm struck the coastal city of Fort Myers and affected nearby cities of Tampa Bay and Sarasota, before traveling east across the peninsula toward Orlando.

On Friday, the storm made landfall in South Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, causing flooding and home damage in coastal cities like Charleston and Myrtle Beach.

“It’s definitely going to be one of the stronger storms and more damaging storms,” Chuck Watson, Enki Research founder and director of research and development, told Bloomberg on Tuesday.

Hurricane Charley, a major storm that struck Florida in 2004, caused damage that today would amount to between $20 billion and $25 billion, Watson said.

While it caused major damage, Hurricane Ian avoided a large disruption of the U.S. oil and gas industry, which would have come about if the storm had traveled toward Texas and Louisiana, industry analysts previously told ABC News.

The state doesn't host any oil refineries and accounts for about 6,000 barrels of oil production each day, said Andy Lipow, a longtime oil analyst and president of Lipow Oil Associates.

That output makes up a tiny fraction of overall U.S. oil production, which amounts to 11.8 million barrels per day, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported this month.