Lenders that were in the path of Hurricane Irma in the U.S. moved to get twice as much cash as normal last week, which resulted in two Florida Federal Reserve branches working tirelessly to meet that demand ahead of the hurricane making landfall.
According to a Reuters news report, Federal Reserve offices in Miami and Jacksonville put $2.9 billion in a fleet of armored vehicles and sent it to banks and credit unions that were in the path of the storm. Reuters cited officials overseeing the emergency response in the Atlanta Fed’s district.
“It absolutely doubled our normal day-to-day operations,” Mary Gelpi, director of the district’s cash function office, told Reuters. The report noted that the cash was trucked in from inside the state, which wasn’t the case during Hurricane Katrina, which severely impacted Louisiana.
Reuters noted that there hasn’t been a follow-up surge of demand for cash. “We saw the peak prior to the storm, and now the lull as people came back online and commerce is re-emerging,” said Gelpi.
Lenders weren’t the only ones to suffer from Hurricane Irma. Insurance providers are also taking a big hit. Out of the total economic losses attributed to the destruction caused by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, which could range from $150 to $200 billion, experts estimate that the insurance-related losses could run as high as $20 to $40 billion. Only Hurricane Katrina, the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history, comes close, causing $15 billion in flood insurance losses.
“Imagine being an Uber driver in Houston right now, with a car underwater,” said Ingo Money CEO Drew Edwards in a conversation with Karen Webster and Cecilia Frew, senior vice president and head of U.S. push payments for Visa. “That’s your source of livelihood. The actual widget that an insurance company produces is a check, that claims payment is the reason why people have insurance.”