The people of New Orleans have tallied their losses from Hurricane Katrina and demanded payments, and for the first time the Army Corps of Engineers has released the total sum of their demands. And it's about as pretty as a hurricane-devastated home.
Here are some of the ways USA Today measured the tally:
489,000 made claims for damage and death related to the failing of the levees that were supposed to protect the city from catastrophic flooding.
247 of the claims demanded $1 billion or more.
One claim was for $6 trillion and another was for get this $3 quadrillion. Yes, it is a number (followed by 15 zeros).
That single extraordinary claim is valued at 250-times the U.S. gross domestic product ($12 trillion).
Most claims will not be honored, or honored to the extent the claimants have demanded. Louisiana has estimated Katrina caused $100 billion in damages, a sum that seems paltry in the face of these claims. They are a reminder of how devastating natural disasters can be, and a warning that if global warming does produce more extreme weather the cost could be well higher than expected.
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