Texas Governor: Harvey more costly than Katrina or Sandy

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HOUSTON Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Sunday estimated that damage from Hurricane Harvey could come up to US$180 billion (S$244 billion), calling it more costly than epic hurricanes Katrina or Sandy and fuelling a debate over how to pay for the disaster.

Harvey, which first came ashore on Aug 25 as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in 50 years, has killed an estimated 47 people, displaced more than 1 million and damaged some 200,000 homes in a path of destruction stretching for more than 480km.

Mr Abbott, who is advocating for United States government aid for his state's recovery, said the damage would exceed that of Katrina, the storm that devastated New Orleans and surrounding areas in 2005, and Sandy, which overwhelmed New York and the US north-east in 2012.

"Katrina caused, if I recall, more than US$120 billion but when you look at the number of homes and business affected by this, this will cost well over US$120 billion, probably US$150 billion to US$180 billion," Mr Abbott told Fox News, adding, "this is far larger than Hurricane Sandy."

The administration of US President Donald Trump has asked Congress for an initial US$7.85 billion for recovery efforts, which Mr Abbott called a "down payment".

Even that amount could be delayed unless Congress quickly increases the government's debt limit, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said yesterday. The US is on track to hit its mandated debt limit by the end of the month unless Congress increases it.

"Without raising the debt limit, I am not comfortable that we will get money to Texas this month to rebuild," Mr Mnuchin told Fox News. - REUTERS

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