Ga.: Losses from March 1 Storms Top $210 Million

March 19, 2007

Damage from March 1 storms that ripped through southwest and central Georgia reached $210 million in insured losses, making it the state’s worst disaster in that category.

The losses exceeded $150 million caused by tornadoes in Dunwoody and Gwinnett County northeast of Atlanta in 1998, Commissioner John Oxendine said.

They did not approach the state’s worst disaster in terms of property damage, an estimated $500 million from 1994 floods in southwest Georgia, but most flood damage is not covered by insurance, Oxendine said.

“Keep in mind that we’re only talking about losses covered by insurance,” he said. Tornado and wind damage two weeks ago “to infrastructure, government and uncovered commercial properties was quite extensive.”

Nine people were killed in the storms, including two in Sumter County and six in Baker County farther south.

Americus and surrounding Sumter County had the lion’s share of the insured losses, well exceeding $100 million, the commissioner said. The second-hardest hit area was Columbus, at $25 million to $30 million, he said.

The losses, including extensive damage to Sumter Regional Hospital which was closed by the tornado, was greatest in that county and Columbus because the areas hit were largely developed.

“The human loss of life was horrendous, but the dollar amount started plummeting” in more rural areas, Oxendine said.

The commissioner said the damage to the hospital in Americus was by far the largest single in insurance claims, but he did not have a figure, saying they were still being assessed.

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