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Irene damages to US more than $10 bn: firm
by Staff Writers
New York (AFP) Aug 31, 2011

A car drives along Rt 112 where the Deerfield River washed out part of the road during in tropical storm Irene on August 31, 2011 in Halifax, Vermont. Numerous roads and bridges throughout the state were seriously damaged by flooding. Photo courtesy AFP.

Hurricane Irene caused more than $10 billion in total damages to the United States as it swept across the country's east coast, a leading risk-assessment firm said on Wednesday.

"Irene caused significant damage to property," the firm, Eqecat, said in a report. "Eqecat estimates that Irene caused in excess of $10 billion in economic damages in its traverse across the mainland US."

More than 40 million people in the densely populated eastern seaboard of the United States were affected by Irene, with the worst damages due to flooding, said the Oakland, California-based company.

Insured losses in the United States were from $1.5 billion to $2.8 billion, with about 60 percent of the losses in the northeastern states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, Eqecat said.

Adding earlier losses in the Caribbean, Eqecat put the total insured losses from Irene at between $1.8 billion to $3.4 billion.

Earlier, Standard & Poor's put insurance losses from Irene at around $5 billion. The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear.

More than 40 deaths have been blamed on Irene, which made made landfall in the US state of North Carolina on Saturday and then progressed northward, weakening to a tropical storm by the time it hit New York on Sunday.

Thousands remained cut off by severe flooding in towns across Vermont, New Jersey and upstate New York on Wednesday.

Obama to view hurricane damage on Sunday
Washington (AFP) Aug 31, 2011 - US President Barack Obama will view damage from Hurricane Irene on Sunday in Paterson, New Jersey, site of disastrous floods sparked by the storm last weekend, the White House said.

Thousands of people remain cut off by flooding in Vermont, New Jersey and upstate New York in the aftermath of Irene, which swept up the US coast last weekend and has now killed nearly 50 people.

Three days after the storm's passage, some marooned families are still waiting for the national guard and firefighters to bring food and water to swamped towns.

In other places, rescuers have been ferrying thousands of people -- including the elderly, children and babies -- to safety in rubber motorboats.

In Paterson, northeastern New Jersey, and other nearby towns, the Passaic River rose to record levels and sent floodwater flowing through the streets.

The White House said that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Craig Fugate traveled to New York and New Jersey to check response and recovery efforts on Wednesday.

Other senior administration officials have made trips to Connecticut, North Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia.

Officials have reported at least 43 deaths across 11 states, including eight in New York, seven in New Jersey and six in North Carolina, where Irene made landfall Saturday with winds upwards of 85 miles (140 kilometers) an hour.

The hurricane was already responsible for at least five deaths in the Caribbean before it struck the United States, and is being blamed for a 49th fatality in Canada, where the storm finally petered out on Tuesday.

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