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Hurricane Laura Damage Estimates in the Billions

Hurricane Laura, which made landfall last Wednesday, was the most intense storm to hit the northwestern Gulf Coast since 1856. According to a report from CoreLogic, storm-related damage “brings threat of further economic uncertainty to the region.”

Said report included residential and commercial wind and storm surge loss estimates for Laura.

According to this new data analysis, insured wind and storm surge losses for residential and commercial properties in Louisiana and Texas are estimated to be between $8 billion and $12 billion, with insured storm surge losses estimated to contribute less than $0.5 billion to this total. 

In addition to property damages, the ability to make loan payments can become compromised following a hurricane. Overall home mortgage delinquency rates (30 or more days past due, including those in foreclosure) in the Beaumont, Texas (9.3%) and Lake Charles, Louisiana (9.5%) metropolitan areas were already above the national rate (7.3%) based on the May 2020 CoreLogic Loan Performance Insights report [1]. CoreLogic data has shown natural disasters cause a spike in mortgage delinquencies, which suggests Hurricane Laura will add to the economic hardship families are already experiencing during the pandemic. 

As Laura struck land, the storm center reportedly missed some of Texas and Louisiana’s more heavily populated cities, instead striking sparsely inhabited areas. 

“There is never a good place for a hurricane to make landfall. But this was the best possible outcome because it spared the major population centers of Houston and New Orleans," said Curtis McDonald, Meteorologist and Senior Product Manager of CoreLogic. 

The CoreLogic post-landfall estimates have been updated based on the August 27, 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time National Hurricane Center (NHC) advisory of the storm. As of last Friday, the storm was not expected to pose an extreme flood risk as it moves east across the country. Wind and storm surge are likely to be the primary causes of property loss initially while tornado activity could occur as the storm progresses. The analysis includes residential homes and commercial properties, including contents and business interruption and does not include broader economic loss from the storm. 

Hurricane Laura weakened as it moved over land, which safeguarded some metropolitan areas from the full impact of a landfalling Category 4 hurricane. This is represented in the “Hurricane Laura Total Residential Properties Affected by Wind and/or Storm Surge by Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale Category” table above as zero values. Certain metropolitan areas will experience multiple categories of storm intensities as properties closer to the coast are likely to experience stronger winds relative to the more inland properties.