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Living With Climate Change: Ida caused an estimated $24 billion in damage in the Northeast — but a dismal number of people were insured for flooding

The flash floods triggered by Tropical Storm Ida across the Northeast caused billions of dollars in damage, and property owners likely won’t have help in footing much of that bill.

New estimates from property information company CoreLogic suggest that the tropical storm caused $16 billion to $24 billion in damage to residential and commercial buildings in the Northeast alone. That’s on top of the $27 billion to $40 billion in losses caused by the storm when it struck Louisiana and Mississippi as a major hurricane.

Only a fraction of the damage inflicted on the Northeast was insured, however. CoreLogic estimates that the insured loss from the flooding was only between $5 billion and $8 billion. Most of the damage occurred in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

The design of buildings in this part of the country contributed to the higher price tag. “Given the prevalence of multifamily housing and below-ground structures in these areas, we’ll see more extreme interior content damages than we typically see in southern coastal areas,” Shelly Yerkes, senior leader of insurance solutions at CoreLogic, said in the report.


Only $5 billion to $8 billion of the losses caused by the flash flooding from Tropical Storm Ida was insured, according to estimates.

She added, as an example, that heating and air conditioning systems in New York City buildings are typically housed in the basement of the structure. Many basements across the city flooded during the storm.

Another factor that likely contributed to the devastating flooding was the fact that major urban areas were hard hit. The heavy rainfall, which easily surpassed what this region sees in a typical month, overwhelmed storm water drainage systems. Without much green space to absorb the water, it had nowhere to go — leading to the flash floods.

The good news for some property owners is that Superstorm Sandy, which hit New York and New Jersey in 2012, prompted many to invest in resilience projects that likely helped them to avoid worse damage as a result of Ida.

“Due to the repairs made in 2012, such as strengthening buildings and infrastructure and addressing deferred maintenance, New York was less vulnerable,” David Smith, senior leader of science and analytics at CoreLogic, said in the report. “Tropical Storm Ida’s effects on New Yorkers would have been worse if we hadn’t conducted these resilience-based repairs after Superstorm Sandy.”

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