Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes that swept through the Southeast April 22 to 28 caused $3.7 billion to $5.5 billion in insured losses, according to the catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide (AIR). Thousands of business, car and home insurance claims have already been filed, and more are to come.
The firm's estimates reflect insured damages to homes, commercial and industrial buildings and cars, as well as their contents. Additional living expenses for home insurance claims and business interruption losses were also included in the estimates from AIR.
Tornadoes leave path of destruction across Southeast
The National Weather Service reported more than 475 eyewitness tornado sightings over the four-day period. The storms killed an estimated 354 people across seven states, and left thousands homeless after entire neighborhoods were flattened. It was the second deadliest severe thunderstorm outbreak in U.S. history, after the tri-state tornado outbreak of 1925, AIR said.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency reported 2,527 homes damaged, including 993 severely damaged or destroyed, and 104 damaged businesses, including 62 severely damaged or destroyed. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management reported initial estimates of 443 damaged structures, including 137 destroyed or severely damaged. In Georgia a tornado touched down in Cartoosa County with winds of 175 mph, damaging or destroying 75 to 100 homes.
Alabama was hit hardest, with 38 of 67 counties declared disaster areas. AIR said information compiled by the American Red Cross indicates as many as 5,000 properties were destroyed in Tuscaloosa alone.
An AIR post-disaster survey team visited the worst-hit areas of Alabama around Tuscaloosa and Birmingham to assess building performance, wind speeds and damage footprints. AIR officials said the event demonstrates that risk from severe thunderstorms must be managed and modeled as any other catastrophe peril.