Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett says 12,000 to 13,000 homes were affected by the tornado that tore through a city suburb and the cost could be more than $2 billion.
Dan Ramsey, president of the Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma, said a damage estimate in the low billions is “not surprising.”
“Certainly it’s in the hundreds of millions,” Ramsey said. “I suppose seeing projections from similar disasters, it could stretch to a billion” or more.
The town of Moore is a community of 41,000 people located about 10 miles from Oklahoma City.
From the air, large stretches of Moore could be seen where every home had been cut to pieces. Some homes were sucked off their concrete slabs. A pond was filled with piles of wood and an overturned trailer. Also visible were large patches of red earth where the tornado scoured the land down to the soil. Some tree trunks were still standing, but the winds ripped away their leaves.
Oklahoma Insurance Department Spokeswoman Calley Herth told The Associated Press that the early tally is based on visual assessments of the extensive damage zone stretching more than 17 miles (27 kilometers) and the fact that the tornado was on the ground for 40 minutes.
With no reports of anyone still missing and with the death toll at 24 people, authorities and residents turned toward assessing the damage and plotting a future course for Moore, a town which was also hit by a massive tornado in 1999.
The Oklahoma Insurance Department says the financial cost of the tornado could exceed $2 billion, because of the size and duration of the storm. The disaster zone stretches more than 17 miles and the tornado was on the ground for 40 minutes.
The National Weather Service says the tornado was a top-of-the-scale EF5 twister with winds of at least 200 mph – the first EF5 tornado of 2013.
President Barack Obama will travel to tornado-ravaged Moore, Okla., on Sunday.
White House spokesman Jay Carney says the president will view the tornado damage first-hand. He also plans to meet with victims and first responders.
Insurers on Scene
Catastrophe response teams from The Hanover and Allstate are reportedly already in Oklahoma assisting tornado victims.
Allstate has set up mobile claim centers in Moore and Shawnee. The mobile claims centers are specially equipped with satellite phones, wireless data access, generators and even offer bottled water and teddy bears for kids.
(Associated Press writers Ramit Plushnick-Masti, Christopher Sherman, Nomaan Merchant, Sean Murphy and Tim Talley contributed to this report.)
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