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Hurricane Matthew pounds Florida, may cause $30 billion in losses

Hurricane Matthew pounds Florida, may cause $30 billion in losses

Hurricane Matthew triggered mass evacuations along the coast from Florida through Georgia and Carolinas

Hurricane Matthew pounded Florida on Friday with winds of 120 miles per hour.

Matthew cut power to hundreds of thousands of homes as it hit the state’s Atlantic coast on a northward track after killing hundreds of people in Haiti.


Matthew, the first major hurricane to threaten a direct hit on the United States in more than a decade, triggered mass evacuations along the coast from Florida through Georgia and into South Carolina and North Carolina.

The  hurricane could cause insurance losses of $25-30 billion and be the second costliest US hurricane on record for insurers, according to initial industry estimates.

Data modeling firm RMS has told clients its initial estimates were a 42 percent chance of a $20 billion insurance loss and a 26 percent chance of a $30 billion loss from the hurricane, a source familiar with the research said.

At 8am EDT (1200 GMT), Matthew’s eye, or center, was 55 km east of Cape Canaveral, home to the country’s main space launch site.

“The winds are ferocious right now,” said Jeff Piotrowski, a 40-year-old storm chaser from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who was near Cape Canaveral early on Friday. “It’s fierce.”

The storm downed power lines and trees and destroyed billboards in Cape Canaveral, he said.



Only a handful of hurricanes of this strength have ever made landfall in Florida, and none since 1898 has threatened to scythe its way north along the low-lying, densely populated coast into Georgia and beyond.

‘I’m going to pray for everybody’s safety’

The strongest winds of 120 mph were just offshore, but Matthew’s wrath still menaced more than 500 miles of coastline.

“This storm’s a monster,” Florida Governor Rick Scott warned as Matthew started lashing the state. “I’m going to pray for everybody’s safety.”

The number of homes and businesses without power jumped by the hour as the storm edged closer to the coast. More than 200,000 were in the dark by early Friday.

The winds picked up along Vero Beach, midway between West Palm Beach and Cape Canaveral, stripping away palm fronds, ripping awnings and blowing sand that stung the face. Waves crashed on the beach, and rain came in short bursts.

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