MADISON, WI (SPECTRUM NEWS) — Dorian will likely be the seventh billion-dollar hurricane for the United States in the past four years.
Shane Hubbard, a researcher with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says the overall cost in damages from hurricanes in that time span for the U.S. Is more than $335 billion.
Hubbard, who works with civic recovery from natural disasters, says the current path of the hurricane has changed the estimates on what it will cost the country. He says now it is forecasted to run up the Atlantic Coast from Florida, before it was projected to run into the state.
“The one benefit is it's going to be out to sea just enough and weaken enough the overall damages in terms of our estimates are coming down, a couple of days ago it was looking like we could be at a $80 billion disaster or potentially greater with it impacting Florida, now what it looks like is we're probably on the $10 billion or so range,” Hubbard said.
Hubbard said a chunk of that will come from wind damage, but most of it will be from the rain and the floods associated with that.
Hubbard said the researchers at UW do not have the same access to data on damages in the Bahamas, though he estimates it is at least $2 billion.
Hubbard knows it will be tough for the country to recover, his research has taken him to Puerto Rico both before and after Hurricane Maria hit the island in 2017.
“Just gut wrenching, I mean it's gut wrenching because you know what it's going to take for people to recover. You know that families are impacted for multiple months if not years,” Hubbard said.
Though he said there are some silver linings. One technology and social media have made information on damages and how to help more accessible than ever.
He also said there is an opportunity to build back better for communities hit by disasters like this.
“There's no better time to build mitigation and resilience into your community than right after a disaster. You see the impacts of that disaster and you want to then when you do the rebuild you want to be able to do that so you're resistant to the next hurricane that you have,” Hubbard said.
In some disasters the best option may be not to rebuild at all in certain areas.
Hubbard said Florida did this in the 90s after hurricanes. Certain building materials and windows have become more resistant to high winds and impacts, lessening overall damages when natural disasters hit.