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People don't understand the magnitude of post-Harvey and Irma rebuilding, says Aecom CEO

  • Hurricanes Harvey and Irma caused billions of dollars in damage, yet people are not fully understanding the magnitude of the issue right now, said Mike Burke, CEO of engineering company Aecom.
  • He called the estimated cost to rebuild after hurricanes "enormous."
  • Aecom has "hundreds" of people on the ground in Texas and Florida assessing the damage, Burke said.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma caused billions of dollars in damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure, yet people are not fully understanding the magnitude of the issue right now, said Mike Burke, CEO of engineering company Aecom.

According to a preliminary estimate by Moody's Analytics, the combined destruction from the hurricanes could range from $150 billion to $200 billion.

Burke said that $200 billion figure is 25 percent greater than the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.

"Here we are 12 years after Hurricane Katrina and we're still rebuilding the infrastructure of New Orleans," Burke said in an interview with "Power Lunch" on Tuesday.

"I think people are misunderstanding the complexity of the challenge."

Aecom currently has "hundreds" of people on the ground in both Texas and Florida helping to assess the damage and ultimately help rebuild.

"The first order of business is to understand the scope and depth of the problem on the ground as it relates to transportation infrastructure, as it relates to power. The entire water and drinking systems are of critical importance," Burke said.

Damage to the Houston shipping channel is also being assessed.

There are also a number of issues to address, such as coordinating federal, state and local governments, as well as funding, he said.

"When you talk about a $200 billion program, that's more than double the annual budget for the state of Texas. So this is an enormous amount of money that's going to be necessary to rebuild the infrastructure of these cities."