A week after Hurricane Harvey rammed into the Texas coast – bringing with it a deluge of rain and catastrophic floods – AccuWeather estimates the storm will wind up being the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history. 

According to a release from the Pennsylvania-based company, the storm's estimated impact on gross domestic product will be $190 billion – 1 percent of the U.S.'s current gross domestic product, and more than the combined cost of the damage of Katrina and Sandy. 

"This is the costliest and worst natural disaster in American history," said Joel Myers, founder, president and chairman of AccuWeather, in the release. "The disaster is just beginning in certain areas. Parts of Houston, the United States' fourth largest city, will be uninhabitable for weeks and possibly months due to water damage, mold, disease-ridden water and all that will follow this 1,000-year flood." 

Myers says business leaders, banks and insurance companies should "begin to factor in the negative impact this catastrophe will have on business, corporate earnings and employment." AccuWeather expects the Federal Reserve – the country's central bank – to delay any upcoming increase in interest rates due to concerns of the storm's impact on the national economy.

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Myers also accused public officials of being slow to act on meteorologists' warnings about how devastating Harvey would be. Houston officials have defended their decision to not issue a mandatory evacuation order for the city ahead of the storm.

"The entire meteorological community did a first-rate job, and it's frustrating that some entities were slow to take action," Myers said.

Yesterday, Moody’s Analytics forecast property losses from the storm to reach $65 million, with other economic losses adding up to $10 billion, according to CNN Money. Business, including oil refineries in the Houston-area, has already been affected, temporarily shutting down operations in response to the storm. 

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • Northwest Houston suburbs like Cypress have exploded in population in recent years. Scientists say that's a big reason some neighborhoods here saw devastating floods last year and now from Hurricane Harvey. [Full story]

  • Harvey has dropped more than 50 inches of rain on parts of Southeast Texas in less than a week. [Full story]

  • As swamped officials struggled to respond to a deadly crisis Sunday, southeast Texans were bracing for their troubles to multiply over the coming week. Harvey is on track to produce even more devastating floods. [Full story]

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