On Oct. 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael destroyed a portion of the Florida Panhandle, killing more than 40 people and inflicting at least $6.5 billion in property losses. As many as 375,000 people were forced to evacuate prior to the storm's arrival. Since that time, there have been more than 135,000 property insurance claims filed, and at least 100,000 people and 16 counties are seeking assistance through federal and state agencies.
In addition to the destruction experienced by homeowners and businesses, around 3 million acres of forests and agricultural lands were destroyed, including approximately $1.3 billion in lost timber that led to almost $1.5 billion in crop damage. The destruction was widespread, affecting cotton farmers, oyster farmers, cattle ranchers and those in the lumber industry. In addition to crops, the storm also caused more than $43 million in cattle losses and more than $16 million in poultry losses.
The current loss total of $6.5 billion consists of $5 billion in property losses in addition to the $1.5 billion in crop damage. However, emergency managers have publicly stated that these costs could easily spiral upward. Insurance analysts estimate that the total cost of Hurricane Michael could reach as much as $12 billion in Florida and exceed that amount when the damage to adjacent states is added in.
Hurricanes and tropical storms often pack enough punch to inflict severe damage on businesses, farmers and homeowners. Although help may be available through insurance policies, some agencies will find ways to deny payments. For this reason, anyone who has suffered damage from a hurricane or tropical storm may want to enlist the services of a law firm with experience in filing hurricane damage claims against insurance agencies.