‘Real Dollars’ Applied to Hurricane Damage

‘Real Dollars’ Applied to Hurricane Damage

I was looking at a lot of official damage tolls from the last five major hurricane hits in Hawaii. These are those numbers:

1959 – Hurricane Dot – $6 million.

1982 – Hurricane Iwa – $250 million.

1986 – Hurricane Estelle – $2 million.

1992 – Hurricane Iniki – $3 billion.

2014 – Hurricane Iselle – $325 million.

And I thought, what would these figures look like in today’s dollars, adjusting for inflation, to show what the damage tally would be if the very same damage were done today? Carl Bonham of UHERO kindly agreed to make that happen, and here are those same numbers in present day dollars:

1959 – Hurricane Dot – $6 million – $52 million.

1982 – Hurricane Iwa – $250 million – $700 million.

1986 – Hurricane Estelle – $2 million – $5 million.

1992 – Hurricane Iniki – $3 billion – $5.3 billion.

2014 – Hurricane Iselle – $325 million – $343 million.

I call some things to your attention:

  • A mere $6 million, in 1959, converted to today’s dollars, becomes $52 million. Nine dollars today buys something that cost less than a dollar in 1959.
  • Even Iselle, a mere four years ago, cost $18 million more in today’s dollars. (This should help you see why your own money isn’t stretching as far as you would wish.)
  • Total damage from these hurricanes, in today’s dollars, is more than twice as much as the official damage tolls at the time.