The estimate is based on comparisons with about 1,700 other disasters around the world in recent decades. A more detailed, official estimate is expected in a few weeks. But the preliminary study gives a sense of the extraordinary rebuilding task that awaits the hemisphere's poorest country.
The U.S. government has committed over $500 million for relief efforts in Haiti since the Jan. 12 earthquake, and the Obama administration is expected to soon ask Congress for special funding for reconstruction there. Officials said the exact amount of the request hadn't been determined. But congressional sources said they expected it to be $1 billion or more.
Mark Schneider, who coordinated the American response to Hurricane Mitch in Central America in 1998, said $14 billion was "a relatively conservative figure" in estimating Haiti's reconstruction costs, since new structures cost more than old ones did.
He noted that about $6.3 billion was spent on rebuilding areas hit by Mitch, which killed about 10,000 people. The Haiti quake left at least 200,000 dead.
"You have the central political and economic core of the country essentially destroyed," said Schneider, who is now vice president of the International Crisis Group.
He said the U.S. government provided about $1 billion in aid to countries battered by Mitch, and should commit $3 billion to Haiti as part of a long-term commitment.
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