China Floods and Early Hurricanes Drive Significant July Losses

Heavy rainfall and significant flooding which hit large areas of China are set to provide a $22 billion economic loss according to latest figures from broker Aon.

The firm’s Global Catastrophe Recap report, which evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that occurred worldwide during July highlighted persistent seasonal rainfall worsened the flood situation across China’s Yangtze River Basin during the month, with the death toll since 1 June rising to at least 175.

The provinces of Anhui, Hubei and Chongqing municipality were hardest hit. The Ministry of Emergency Management (MEM) said that nearly 500,000 homes had been damaged or destroyed and 5.2 million hectares (13 million acres) of cropland affected. Direct seasonal economic losses were estimated at CNY150 billion ($22 billion), of which nearly $16 billion occurred in July. Most of the losses were anticipated to be uninsured.

Hurricane Hanna became the earliest eighth-named “H” storm on record in the Atlantic Basin, in addition to being the first hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic Season. Hanna made landfall along the southern Texas coast on 25 July as a 90 mph (150 kph) Category 1 storm. Several feet of storm surge were noted near the landfall location, in addition to hurricane-force wind gusts and torrential rains that prompted inland flooding. Some of the worst flood damage was found in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas into northern Mexico. Total economic losses were estimated into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Tropical Storm Fay, the earliest sixth-named “F” storm on record in the Atlantic Ocean, killed six people after making landfall in the United States along the New Jersey coast, north of Atlantic City, on 10 July with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph). Total economic losses were estimated at $350 million, with public and private insurers covering roughly one-third of the damage cost.

Michal Lörinc, catastrophe analyst on the Impact Forecasting team at Aon, said, “Despite a record early start to the Atlantic Hurricane Season, the most significant natural peril events were actually noted in Asia during July. An active monsoon season prompted more than $20 billion in flood-related damage in parts of China, Japan, India and Bangladesh during the month alone. Much of the physical damage to property, infrastructure and agriculture was anticipated to be uninsured – only reinforcing the importance of finding ways to help lower the protection gap across the region. Utilizing tools such as catastrophe models can help aid in identifying areas of highest risk.”

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