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Sandy Losses Could Exceed $20 Billion

Hurricane Sandy delivered gale-force winds, rain and snow to the east coast, damaging businesses and homes, grounding thousands of US flights, flooding New York City’s subways and tunnels and cutting power to more than six million customers after making landfall on New Jersey’s shore and cutting a path through Pennsylvania.

The current death toll from the storm stands at least 17, according to various reports.

The total economic loss from the storm could exceed $20 billion, including insured losses of about $7 billion to $8 billion, reported Bloomberg. The storm, which has since transitioned to a post-tropical cyclone, could ultimately subtract 0.1 to 0.2 percentage points from US gross domestic product in the fourth quarter, Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities told Bloomberg.

The storm disrupted business throughout the region, including refineries and transportation. Major airports, including New York City’s JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports have closed, grounding an estimated 12,500 US flights.

Philips 66 shut down its refinery in New Jersey and other refineries reduced output. ExxonMobil, NuStar Energy and Hess closed energy terminals in the region.

The New York Stock Exchange said it would remain closed Tuesday in coordination with all US equities, bonds, options and derivatives markets. NYSE intends to re-open US markets Wednesday, conditions permitting.

The NYU Langone Medical Center had to be evacuated after heavy flooding filled elevator shafts and cut power to the facility. The hospital’s emergency generators initially worked, but two hours later about 90 percent of that power went out, CNN reported.

A high-rise crane, which snapped and still dangles 1,000 feet above the ground in Manhattan, forced the evacuation of several buildings nearby.

The superstorm, which is still packing winds of near 65 mph, sent more than 11 inches of rain to some areas of New Jersey and more than a foot of snow to parts of West Virginia, according to the National Weather Service.

New York City was hit with a record 13-foot surge of seawater that flooded the Brooklyn-Battery tunnel and portions of the city’s subway system. Seven subway tunnels under the East River flooded, said Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Joseph J. Lhota.

Exelon’s New Jersey Oyster Creek nuclear power plant was placed on “alert” status Monday night after water exceed a certain high level mark, threatening the facility’s cooling system, said the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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