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Damages caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ike in Ohio could hit $500 million or higher, making it one of the state's costliest natural disasters.

The Ohio Insurance Institute says $500 million is a preliminary figure and it could go higher when the group issues its official estimates next week, spokeswoman Mary Bonelli said Saturday.

The Sept. 14 storm knocked out electrical service for 2.6 million customers in Ohio. Wind reaching 78 mph swept across the region, and at least seven of the 56 deaths blamed on Hurricane Ike — from Texas to Pennsylvania — were in Ohio.

The hurricane's remnants also dumped as much as 8 inches of rain on parts of Indiana, Illinois and Missouri, and it spawned a tornado in Arkansas that damaged several buildings.

Ohio officials say the storm cost local governments at least $34.5 million. However, Tamara McBride, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, says that estimate is based on reports from only 33 of 84 affected counties.

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