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Eye to Eye - Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, August-September 2008 - Bill Koenig

Hurricane Gustav

Aug. 24-25 Rice was in Jerusalem pressing Israel to sign a document by the end of the year that would divide Jerusalem by offering the Palestinians a stake in Israel's capital city as well as in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to top diplomatic sources involved in the talks.

• The day Rice arrived in Jerusalem, a tropical depression began and quickly developed into Hurricane Gustav.

• Around 1.5 million people were without power in Louisiana on Sept. 1. The state reported about 100,000 people remained on the coast after evacuation. Nearly 2 million people had evacuated from south Louisiana in the days before Gustav's arrival.

• On Aug. 30, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney canceled their planned attendance at the 2008 Republican National Convention. Because of the expected U.S. landfall, governors and some other political leaders from Louisiana and other states chose to stay home from the 2008 Republican National Convention. As the hurricane approached the coast, presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain canceled all non-essential opening-day festivities at the convention and said that he might give his acceptance speech via satellite from the affected area.

• A catastrophic risk management company says private insurers could face damages from Hurricane Gustav ranging between $4 billion and $10 billion.

Newark, California-based Risk Management Solutions said on Sept. 2 that the estimate included damage to the offshore petroleum industry and damage from wind and storm surge. The estimate did not include potential levee damage or post-Gustav flooding from heavy rainfall that was forecast for the rest of the week. The company said damage to the offshore petroleum industry could range from $1 billion to $3 billion. Insured losses to homes and businesses were estimated from $3 billion to $7 billion. Those estimates did not include liability facing the federal flood insurance program

Hurricane Ike

Sept. 1 Rice was negotiating an agreement that would obligate the Bush Administration and future U.S. administrations to a Palestinian state. Hurricane Ike formed on Sept. 1.

• On Sept. 13, Ike turned at the last minute and missed a direct hit on Galveston, the Houston ship canal and 25 percent of the United States' oil refineries, but it did slam into Galveston and parts of Houston. Jeff Masters, director of Weather Underground, a private commercial forecasting service, noted that the cost of Ike's rampage along the Gulf Coast could reach $22 billion, which would make it the third costliest hurricane on record behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Flood damage could add another $20 billion-plus to the U.S federal government.

Risk Management Solutions (RMS) on Oct. 24 announced that it had updated its estimate for U.S. onshore and offshore insured losses from Hurricane Ike to $13 billion to $21 billion, of which $10 billion to $15 billion was estimated for wind and storm surge in Texas and Louisiana. The estimate also included $2 billion to $3 billion from inland wind and flood losses and $1 billion to $3 billion in offshore losses, but did not include losses covered by the National Flood Insurance Program.

Damage caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ike in Ohio could hit $500 million or higher, making it one of the state's costliest natural disasters. The Ohio Insurance Institute said $500 million was a preliminary figure, and it could go higher. The Sept. 14 storm knocked out electrical service for 2.6 million customers in Ohio. Wind reaching 78 mph swept across the region, and at least seven of the 56 deaths blamed on Hurricane Ike -- from Texas to Pennsylvania -- were in Ohio.