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The 10 Costliest US Hurricanes in History Left Severe Damage on Our Wallets

Hurricane damage
Gary Williams, Getty Images / NOAA / Carlo Allegri, Getty Images

Hurricanes cause all sorts of damage, but do you have any idea just how much?

As you may suspect, these storms wreak all sorts of havoc. But which ones have unleashed the most financial damage?

Katrina – 2005 – $105.8 Billion

Chris Graythen/Getty
Chris Graythen, Getty Images

Hurricane Katrina is a storm most people won’t forget anytime soon. Besides being the costliest natural disaster of all-time, it was also one of the deadliest hurricanes in US history, with the death toll nearing 2,000. The storm’s effects were most notable in New Orleans, where the levee system failed and caused 80% of the city to flood. Waters reached 12 miles inland in some areas, laying waste to towns regardless of proximity to the beachfront.

Andrew- 1992 – $45.6 Billion

NOAA

Although it spent most of its life as a small tropical cyclone, Hurricane Andrew’s damage was nothing short of catastrophic when it did touch down. Eleven insurance companies went bankrupt due to a mass influx of claims filed. Crime and looting rose sharply in the aftermath, both in business and residential neighborhoods. Perhaps most disheartening was the slow relief response time, prompting Miami-Dade County Emergency Management Director Kate Hale to exclaim at a televised conference, “They keep saying we’re going to get supplies. For God’s sake, where are they?”

Ike – 2008 – $27.8 Billion

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The state of Texas truly responded to devastating Hurricane Ike. The storm ushered in the largest search and rescue effort in history, countless churches opened their doors for as many displaced people as possible, and over 1.5 million meals were prepared by volunteers. Tales of the heroism and charitable efforts forever remain in history books as a testament to the worst of times bringing out the best in people.

Wilma  -  2005 – $20.6 Billion

Carlo Allegri, Getty Images

Recorded as the most intense hurricane to hit the Atlantic Basin, Hurricane Wilma’s reign left destroyed airports in its wake, caused 11 tornadoes throughout Florida, and left homes without power for months. Due to the lack of power used for pumps, lines to fill up at gas stations reached over six hours in some places.

Ivan -  2004 – $19.8 Billion

Stephen Morton, Getty Images

Imagine a hurricane the size of Texas. As crazy as it sounds, Hurricane Ivan reached that size at its peak. It also spawned an alarming 119 tornadoes throughout the eastern US. Cleanup in Escambia County, Florida yielded piles of debris three-quarters of a mile long and 70 feet high. Damage to woodlands was also notable, as millions of acres fell to the harsh conditions.

Charley- 2004 – $15.82 Billion

Daniel Barry, Getty Images

Hurricane Charley struck Florida less than 24 hours after Tropical Storm Bonnie paid a visit — the first time in history that two tropical cyclones struck the same state in the span of a day. The Happiest Place on Earth became slightly more morose, as, for the second time in history, Walt Disney world was forced to close due to impending hurricanes.

Irene  - 2011 – $15.8 Billion

Spencer Platt, Getty Images

The first hurricane to hit the US since Ike in 2008, Hurricane Irene cancelled 10,000 flights, evacuated 2.3 million people, and broke flooding records for 26 rivers. Perhaps more northern-focused than most hurricanes on this list, Irene was responsible for halting New York City subways and buses, as well as service for Long Island Rail Road, Metro North Railroad and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor line.

Hugo  - 1989 – $12.8 Billion

Gary Williams, Getty Images

Hurricane Hugo was a Cape Vere-type storm, a rare and powerful variant on a hurricane that develops off the west coast of Africa. This was no exception to the rule, as the storm left almost 100,000 homeless and killed over a hundred. The Carolinas were hit particularly badly, with South Carolina stricken by 14- foot waves, and all 29 counties in North Carolina being declared federal disaster areas.

Rita  - 2005  – $11.8 Billion

Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Hitting just three weeks after the devastating Katrina, Hurricane Rita was the last thing the barely recovered South needed. Since the levees damaged by Katrina had only been temporarily repaired, Rita had no problem breaching its walls again, though significantly less catastrophically than the storm that preceded it.

Agnes – 1972  – $11.76 Billion

NOAA

Just because she’s the oldest storm on our list doesn’t mean Hurricane Agnes should be taken lightly. The 1972 storm caused major damage and destruction to over 2,000 structures in Florida. Pennsylvania and New Jersey’s figure was slightly higher, with over 40,000 destroyed/significantly damaged. While the destruction cost amount was slightly small by comparison, it makes number 10 on our list when adjusted for inflation.

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