Rebuilding after Hurricane Florence will be pricey, but according to some, tariffs may add additional burden. According to CoreLogic, Hurricane Florence is estimated to have caused between $20 billion and $30 billion in flood and wind damage. Additionally, CoreLogic found that many in the disaster areas were uninsured, and the uninsured damage is estimated to be between $13 billion and $18.5 billion.
Most of the damage from the storm came from flooding and not wind, meaning additional costs on homeowners, as most insurance policies do not cover flooding by default. North Carolina took the bulk of the hit from Florence, especially for those uninsured, with an estimated $10-14.5 billion in uninsured flood loss and 487,000 residential structures hit by flood and wind damage. South Carolina was still hit with between $1 and $2 billion in insured flood loss, and up to $3.5 billion in uninsured flood loss, as well as 109,000 damaged homes.
The National Flood Insurance Program coverage is estimated to be between between $2 billion and $5 billion in the impacted areas, while insured flood loss from private insurers is estimated at less than $5 billion, not enough to cover half the damage.
With so few homeowners insured, many are left wondering how to fund the rebuilding process, and a lack of insurance may not be their only issue. For example, builders have expressed concerns for the additional costs imposed by recent tariffs on Chinese and Canadian goods, such as lumber, steel and aluminum. According to the New York Times, wood prices are already up 40 percent year over year, and in 2017 Canadian softwood lumber received an additional 20 percent tariff.
“We’re all going to pay the price for it in terms of higher construction costs,” said Alan Banks, President of the North Carolina Home Builders Association on the New York Times.
“The people that will get hurt the worst are the ones who are least able to afford rebuilding,” said Skip Greene, a contractor in Kinston, N.C. in the Times. “They’re blue collar, and they tend to live in lower-lying areas, and are less likely to have insurance. It breaks your heart.”