Hurricane Ida: Damage to cost insurers $18 billion, estimate says

Hurricane Ida, which made landfall as a Category 4 storm with some of the strongest winds ever to slam Louisiana, is estimated to have caused nearly $18 billion in damage, a modeling company firm said Wednesday. 

Based on high-resolution reference models from Karen Clark & Co, the company estimates that the insured loss from Hurricane Ida will be close to $18 billion, with $40 million in the Caribbean and the rest from wind and storm surge losses in the US. 

According to a report by KCC, the estimate includes the privately insured damage to residential, commercial and industrial properties and automobiles. It does not include boats or offshore properties.

On Friday, the White House announced that President Joe Biden will travel to New Orleans to survey storm damage from the hurricane and meet with state and local leaders from impacted communities.

Ida made two landfalls — first, near La Columba, Cuba on Aug. 27 with sustained winds of 80 mph and again on Sunday, Aug. 29 as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 150 mph. 

According to the report, impacts in Cuba and the Cayman Islands were limited to non-structural damage, downed trees and power outages.

In Louisiana, Hurricane Ida is tied with the Last Island Hurricane (1856) and Hurricane Laura (2020) for the strongest maximum sustained winds at landfall in the state of Louisiana. 

"Coastal areas of Louisiana have experienced significant structural damage to commercial and residential buildings from damaging winds, and low-level wind damage extends farther inland into southern Mississippi," the report stated. "While the new levee system in New Orleans held throughout the storm, a few smaller levees to the southeast of New Orleans were overtopped."

RELATED: Hurricane Ida’s aftermath: No power, no flights, drinking water shortage

Intensification of Hurricane Ida was mainly due to very warm sea surface temperatures and low wind shear — the proper ingredients for a hurricane's ability to strengthen. 

The first lights came back on in New Orleans on Wednesday, serving as a glimmer of hope after Hurricane Ida knocked out electricity for the entire city and left behind flooding, destruction and water shortages.

RELATED: Ida's aftermath: 1st lights turned back on in New Orleans as many wait for relief

Power company Entergy announced its crews had turned "power on for some customers in Eastern New Orleans," the first power to have been restored since Ida slammed the electric grid on Sunday with its 150 mph winds. The storm left more than 1 million homes and businesses across Louisiana and Mississippi without electricity.

The barrier island of Grand Isle, which bore Ida's full fury, is "uninhabitable," with every building damaged, Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng told a news conference. There are also numerous breaks in the levee system and a strong odor of natural gas, she said.

The number of deaths from the hurricane climbed to at least four in Louisiana and Mississippi, including two people killed Monday night when seven vehicles plunged into a 20-foot-deep hole near Lucedale, Mississippi, where a highway had collapsed after torrential rains.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said he expects the death toll to rise.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.