Posted Jan. 8, 2008 – Even if the U.S. government wanted to pay all of the claims filed for damages suffered by victims of Hurricane Katrina, it couldn’t.
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Hundreds of thousands of residents, businesses and government agencies have filed claims so humongous that it would take more money than every nickel the United States collects over many years to pay them off, USA Today reports.
In fact, the paper notes, such a payout would be enough to make millionaires of everyone in the state of Louisiana.
About 247 of the 489,000 claims filed against the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency responsible for shoring up the levees that eventually gave way to Katrina’s floodwaters, were for more than $1 billion, according to USA Today. If you were to skim just the top filings, the paper reports, it would add up to so much money that America ’s entire annual economic output – $12 trillion – couldn’t pay them off. And if those numbers aren’t staggering enough for you, one claimant is seeking $3 quadrillion – $3,000,000,000,000,000 – in damages for personal injury, or about 250 times the nation’s gross domestic product.
Another resident, from New Orleans ’ Lower Ninth Ward, is seeking $6 trillion, twice America ’s annual budget.
“That's totally off-the-wall," Ashton O'Dwyer, a New Orleans lawyer handling some of the claims, told the paper.
But Daniel Becnel, a Reserve, La. , lawyer representing some of those suing the government, said, "If they'd built the levees right, they wouldn't have this problem," says.
To put things in context, the Louisiana Recovery Authority estimated that hurricanes Katrina and Rita, 2005’s destructive duo, caused about $100 billion in physical damage statewide, USA Today reports. About $130 billion has been earmarked by the federal government for recovery.