Natural disaster analysts are estimating Hurricane Sandy could cause $20 billion in economic damage after it barrels ashore along the U.S. East Coast -- the most densely populated and heavily developed region in the United States.
The catastrophe-risk modeling firm Eqecat issued the damage estimate Monday, hours before the center of the storm was expected to hit landfall in the southern part of the state of New Jersey. Losses covered by insurance companies could total between $5 billion and $10 billion.
Hurricane Katrina the monster 2005 storm that hit the southern U.S. shoreline near New Orleans caused $108 billion in damage and killed 1,200 people.
Key U.S. stock exchanges in New York halted trading Monday as the storm approached. Hundreds of airline flights were canceled up and down the country's eastern seaboard.