US tornado damage could surpass $2bn
23 May 2013, 10:05
Moore - The cost of a massive tornado that battered an Oklahoma City suburb, could be more than $2bn, according to a preliminary estimate announced on Wednesday by state officials.
Oklahoma insurance department spokesperson Calley Herth told AP that the early tally is based on visual assessments of the extensive damage zone stretching more than 27km, and the fact that the tornado was on the ground for 40 minutes.
She said the financial cost of Monday's tornado in Moore could be greater than the $2bn in damage from the 2011 tornado that killed 158 people in Joplin, Missouri.
Herth said that twister left a smaller trail of destruction.
With no reports of anyone still missing and with the death toll at 24 people, authorities and residents turned on Wednesday toward assessing the damage and plotting a future course for Moore, a town of about 56 000 that was also hit by a massive tornado in 1999.
Authorities have yet to present concrete numbers for how many homes were damaged or destroyed, but the view from the air shows whole neighbourhoods obliterated, with gouged earth littered with splintered wood and pulverised cars.
Dan Ramsey, president of the Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma, said a damage estimate in the low billions is "not surprising”.
"Certainly it's in the hundreds of millions," Ramsey said. "I suppose seeing projections from similar disasters, it could stretch to a billion" or more.