|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
The procedure I have used to estimate economic damage — this is going to get a tiny bit technical — is to regress the logarithm of economic damage on three independent variables. The first two variables are the storm’s wind speed, and the distance of the storm from New York City, at its closest approach to Manhattan. The third variable is how many fatalities the storm caused in the Southern United States (these were significant in the cases of Hurricane Donna in 1960, Hurricane Agnes in 1972, and Hurricane Floyd in 1999), which is used as a proxy to segregate out damages caused in the South from those in the Northeast in the case of storms that made multiple distinct landfalls. The figures I am going to show you, therefore, reflect estimates of the economic damage to the Northeast from various types of hurricanes, including but not limited to the New York City metro region.
Citing the Galveston hurricane in 1900 that obliterated much of the Texas coast, the libertarian-leaning congressman said Americans were able to rebuild their cities and put up a seawall without the federal government's help.
The citizens of Houston knew a powerful storm had blown through and had made ready to provide assistance. Workers set out by rail and ship for the island almost immediately. Rescuers arrived to find the city completely destroyed. It is believed 8,000 people—20% of the island's population—had lost their lives. Estimates range from 6,000 to 12,000. Most had drowned or been crushed as the waves pounded the debris that had been their homes hours earlier. Many survived the storm itself but died after several days trapped under the wreckage of the city, with rescuers unable to reach them. The rescuers could hear the screams of the survivors as they walked on the debris trying to rescue those they could. A further 30,000 were left homeless.
So many died that corpses were piled onto carts for burial at sea.The dead bodies were so numerous that burying them all was not possible. The dead were initially weighted down and dumped at sea, but when the gulf currents washed many of the bodies back onto the beach, a new solution was needed. Funeral pyres were set up wherever the dead were found and burned for weeks after the storm. The authorities passed out free whiskey to sustain the distraught men conscripted for the gruesome work of collecting and burning the dead. More people were killed in this single storm than the total of those killed in all the tropical cyclones that have struck the United States since. This count is greater than 300 cyclones, as of 2009. The Galveston Hurricane of 1900 remains the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history.