As the United States eastern seaboard begins to mop up after the passage of Hurricane Sandy, analysts say the economic toll may rise to US$50 billion.
Charles Watson, research and development director at Kinetic Analysis Corporation, a hazard-research company in Silver Spring, Maryland, said the amount would include insured losses over US$8 billion.
He said the remainder will be picked up by cities and states to repair infrastructure, such as New York City's flooded subways and tunnels.
"It is really hard to tell at this stage since the system is still moving, but it will be among the 10 to 15 most damaging storms and probably the top three in the Northeast after Irene and Agnes from 1972," Bill Keogh, president of Eqecat Inc, an Oakland, California-based provider of catastrophic risk models, told reporters.
Spanning 900 miles, Hurricane Sandy slammed into southern New Jersey on Monday, bringing a record storm surge of 13.88 feet into Manhattan's Battery Park.
Officials said flooding, high winds and fallen trees cut power to about eight million customers from South Carolina to Maine.
Travellers to the Caribbean and other places were also stranded, as US and Caribbean airlines grounded more than 16,000 flights.
Officials said it may take up to a year to fully recover from the most devastating storm to hit the most populous city in the country.