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19th February 2020
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Halloween storm

Posted 31/10/2012 by sevans

With near perfect timing, Hurricane Sandy, otherwise known as Frankenstorm, has arrived on the US eastern seaboard just in time for Halloween. The impact on businesses and people, both professional and personal, has been on a frightening scale, with estimates for the total cost of lost business and property damage of anywhere between $10bn and $20bn. 

Disruption to power supplies, utilities and transportation will likely continue for some time. Just before the storm hit the eastern seaboard, on Tuesday chemicals news service ICIS reported that several energy producers in the US northeast had shut down refineries or reduced operating rates. A number of chemical companies were earlier said to be on the verge of implementing emergency plans in preparation. 

And companies directly in the storm’s path will also have to contend with staffing issues, getting goods in and out of their facilities, and not to mention the damage caused by flooding.

It won’t be easy. But the US has been here before. Only last year there was Hurricane Irene. And before that came Hurricanes Ike (2008), Wilma (2005), Charley (2004), Ivan (2004), Andrew (1992), and Hugo (1989), to name just a few of the top 10 most costly ones cited by CBS MoneyWatch. 

And who could forget Hurricane Katrina? But devastating as are their impacts in the short term, experience has taught us they won’t destroy the economy. I visited New Orleans in August 2007, just two years after Katrina had struck, and was surprised to find little evidence of the damage she had inflicted on the city’s downtown area. I was encouraged, too, by the optimism of the organisations and people I spoke to, several of whom had earlier been forced to move out of state or live in temporary shelters as buildings and businesses got back on their feet. 

Hurricane Sandy will have little impact on the US economy overall, according to a statement by Kinetic Analysis Corporation cited by CNNMoney. The loss of business and wealth will be roughly rebalanced by money spent on rebuilding and recovery by private insurers, government aid and private savings. And, as after Hurricane Katrina, there will be opportunities and work in the construction sector – which may at least bring some comfort for those chemicals businesses affected.

Cath O’Driscoll, Deputy editor

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