Economic damage estimate for Hurricane Sandy rises dramatically

The economic toll from Hurricane Sandy is rapidly rising.

Eqecat, a leading firm monitoring the insurance industry, said Thursday that it now estimates total economic damage from the storm to reach as high as $50 billion.

That's an increase from a maximum estimate of $20 billion in damages made just before the storm scored a direct hit on New Jersey and flooded New York City. 

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The storm shut down financial markets for two days and continues to leave millions without power. Popular tourist destinations on the New Jersey shore have been dumped into the ocean. 

The firm estimates a cost of at least $30 billion from the storm.

Total insured losses are estimated to be between $10 billion and $20 billion, double what Eqecat previously estimated.

On Tuesday, another monitoring firm, AIR Worldwide, estimated insured losses between $7 billion and $15 billion. 

The new estimates would make Sandy one of the costliest disasters in American history, second only to Hurricane Katrina’s $105 billion in damages as far as cyclones go. Hurricane Andrew, which flattened much of the Miami area, cost $45 billion. 

The economic effects from the hurricane will not be distributed evenly. For example, construction and lumber will likely see a boost while retail will take a hard hit.