Irene Could Be Among Costliest Storms

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United Press International

Irene Could Be Among Costliest Storms

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A man in Lumberton , New Jersey watches as to car float in high water in a the back yard August 28, 2011 from the intense rain produced by Hurricane Irene. Some 800,000 people were evacuated from the Jersey Shore because of the Category One storm. (UPI/John Anderson)

NEW YORK -- Hurricane Irene likely will be among the costliest catastrophes in U.S. history, analysts say, adding that much of the damage may not be covered by insurance.

Analysts said much of the damage was caused by flooding, which is excluded from many standard insurance policies, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

At least 43 deaths have been attributed to Irene, CNN reported.

As of Tuesday, about 2.85 million customers were without power, the Department of Energy reported. Nearly 6.7 million customers initially were without power because of the storm.

Flood advisories were posted for much of New Jersey, as well as portions of Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia and North Carolina.

Insurance industry officials peg Irene's costs from $7 billion to $10 billion, largely because the hurricane cut through such a wide swath of the East Coast.

Irene flooded cotton and tobacco crops in North Carolina, temporarily stopped shellfish harvesting in Chesapeake Bay, Va., closed sporting and entertainment venues, zapped power, snarled transit for commuters and shooed tourists off Atlantic Ocean beaches just before summer's last hurrah.

Insurers typically covered about half of the total losses in past storms, but a Kinetic Analysis Corp. study indicates insurers may cover less than 40 percent of the costs associated with Hurricane Irene, the Times said. That is partly because flooding caused so much damage and it is unclear how many damaged homes have flood insurance coverage, and partly because deductibles have risen in coastal areas in recent years, requiring some homeowners to pick up at least $4,000 worth of damages before insurers cover the loss.

Governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut sought expedited disaster declarations from the federal government Tuesday, which would open up avenues for more federal aid.

The effects of Irene were felt in parts of New England, as flooding and widespread power failures continued to affect tens of thousands of people.

"I think this is going to end up being a bigger event than people think it is," Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy said. "All of this is massive in scope. What the final dollar amount is, I don't know."

In hard-hit southern Vermont, the National Guard airlifted food, water and other supplies Tuesday to hundreds of people stranded in 13 communities cut off by floods since Sunday, the Times said.

"I think it's probably a very scary thing to not know when you can get out of town and to have a water system that's not working and a general store that has run out of bottled water," Mark Bosma, a spokesman for the Vermont Office of Emergency Management, said. "People are extremely nervous about being isolated."

In northern New Jersey, the Passaic River, already high because of a rainy summer, roiled after Irene blew through, CNN reported.

"Before Irene hit, the Passaic River was already running high from frequent precipitation this summer," Wheeler Antabanez of Montclair, N.J., said. "When the hurricane blew through and dumped all that water on north Jersey, the river began to rage."

Rescuers collected families and pets from their homes Tuesday, using rafts to transport them out of danger.

"It's been pretty much 24 hours a day," said Sgt. Alex Popov of the Paterson Police Department.

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