Damage from the massive Hurricane Sandy battering the US East Coast could hit as much as $20 billion, disaster estimator Eqecat said Monday. Eqecat said total damage costs could run from $10 billion to $20 billion, with insured damage of $5-10 billion. \"Sandy is a large storm, impacting 20 percent of the US population,\" Tom Larsen, senior vice president, said in a statement. That put the projected damages of Sandy, which has shut down public and business activity on much of the region from North Carolina to Massachusetts, more in line with Hurricane Ike in 2008, and larger than Hurricane Irene of 2011, which caused some $10 billion in damage. Hurricane Sandy was packing maximum sustained winds of nearly 90 miles (150 kilometers) per hour Monday as it headed for the coast, the National Hurricane Center reported. Forecasters at the Miami-based NHC said the winds were intensifying as the storm began to turn towards the US mainland. \"Maximum sustained wins have increased to near 90 mph... with higher gusts,\" the center said, citing data from its Hurricane Hunter aircraft.