Track of Hurricane Floyd.

Economic Impact

Thousands of dead turkeys lay rotting at this poultry farm in Wallace. The owner also lost 2,500 hogs and all of his corn crop.

Dave Gatley, FEMA News Photo.

The washed-out remains of the St. James Street bridge in Tarboro.

Dave Gatley, FEMA News Photo.

Agricultural Losses
Chickens 2,400,000
Turkeys 750,000
Hogs 30,000
Peanuts 50%
Cotton 50%
Soybeans 50%
Sweet Potatos 50%
Tobacco 40%
Total Cost $1.29 billion

Sources: National Hurricane Center, North Carolina's Hurricane History by Jay Barnes.

It is difficult to say exactly how much Hurricane Floyd cost North Carolina. The official National Hurricane Center estimate (which is based on twice the value of insured damage) comes to $5.8 billion. But other estimates vary widely, stretching up to $7.8 billion. According to the NC Division of Emergency Management, insured losses alone totaled $4.7 billion, but because uninsured or underinsured damages weren't reported, the true cost of the storm could be more than double this number.

Agriculture was particularly devastated by Floyd. Millions of farm animals drowned in the flooding, and their rotting carcasses had to be burned to prevent the spread of disease. Nearly half of all the peanut, cotton, soybean, sweet potato, and tobacco crops were lost. In total North Carolina farmers lost $1.3 billion. Marc Basnight told WRAL News, "This is worse than the Great Depression. At least when the Depression was over, those folks still had their land, the vegetable plots, maybe a hog tied up out back. Many of these people, when this is over, will have nothing."

Meanwhile, the state was struggling to repair its infrastructure. Sixty-six counties were disaster areas. Most of the roads east of I-95 were flooded. Three hundred bridges were damaged or washed away. Forty dams had failed, and another 61 were damaged. Electricity was out, and municipal waste-treatment plants were underwater. Fixing all of this would cost millions.

The citizens of North Carolina, however, suffered the most. Over 80,000 of their homes were destroyed or damaged, as were 75,000 of their cars and trucks. Through the National Flood Insurance program, FEMA paid 12,830 claims totaling $182 million, but this accounted for less than 13% of the affected homes. Many flood victims had no flood insurance at all because they had been told they would not need it.

To help lessen the financial burden of the disaster, NC Governor Jim Hunt set up the Hurricane Redevelopment Center and asked Congress for $6.9 billion. Congress, however, only granted the state $2.8 billion. To make up for the lack of funding, Governor Hunt also set up the NC Hurricane Floyd Relief Fund, which raised $25 million in charitable donations. Some of the donors included prominent companies like Food Lion, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Lowe's Home Improvement, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Glaxo Wellcome, Barnes & Noble, and Mount Olive Pickle Company. In addition to money, these companies also donated food, water, and supplies.

All dollar amounts have been adjusted for inflation as of 2009.