Author: John Loizeaux
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy’s destruction on the East Coast, there is no doubt lives were ruined and livelihoods shattered. Tens of millions of people have been affected by the storm on some level and early estimates of the physical damage are in excess of $30 billion, according to Moody’s Analytics. All that being said, there is a possible upside to this tragedy: all of the structures damaged and destroyed must be fixed, which will at least provide short-term jobs and much needed improvements.
The devastation of Hurricane Katrina was assuaged for possible short and long-term effects on job creation. The Washington Post reported that nationwide job creation dropped significantly below the trend in the two months following Katrina. Then, three months after Katrina, the Federal Bureau of Statistics reported that jobs numbers exceeded the trend by more than 150,000. Although these were nationwide numbers, most of the growth was shown to be in areas affected by the hurricane. This does not ensure that a similar phenomenon will take place in New York, but it does show that the negative effects on jobs can be relatively short-lived.
For those currently unemployed, the destruction Sandy left behind provides a glimmer of hope in terms of potential jobs. Both New Jersey and New York are desperately in need of new jobs because they rank in the top ten states for high unemployment with rates more than a full percent above the national average. The construction industry has been especially weak in recent years due to low demand for new houses and commercial buildings. Now, there may definitely be increased demand for new construction since flooding and electrical fires wiped out entire neighborhoods in New Jersey and elsewhere.
In addition, cities and states have been putting off road construction and investment in infrastructure until the economy picks up again. It takes a lot of planning to dig up roads and replace aging sewage systems, but now the job is already half done in some areas where roads were completely washed away. The roads are crucial to restoring normal operations and the exposed sewage systems could easily spread disease if not immediately addressed. In the wake of Sandy, these projects that have been put off are now essential and urgent. The bright side of this is that these new investments in infrastructure will last for decades.
New York City’s subway system is another example of an antiquated aspect of infrastructure that desperately needs to be addressed now more than ever. Although there are some anti-flooding measures in place now, the subways are by no means waterproof. The city really needs to invest in a long-term solution to prevent flooding because over 4 million people ride the subways each day. This is true now more than ever because the sea level is currently rising, which poses a significant risk to the future of New York City and New Jersey. New York is praised for having one of the biggest and most effective mass transit systems in the world, but, at this point, it is extremely outdated.
Even though it may seem like the storm should have deep and long-lasting adverse effects on the economy, most businesses should be able to begin operating again some time in the near future. Coastal housing developments and vendors can rebuild with the help of insurance claims. In the process of rebuilding, they can strengthen defenses against inevitable future storms. Living in areas prone to storm damage is the risk these homeowners take. They should take this as an opportunity to make the necessary investments so that their houses can withstand future storms.
The results of Hurricane Sandy are undeniably devastating. Thousands of people instantly became homeless and over a hundred people lost their lives, with areas still searching for survivors. In order to get through such a difficult time, everyone affected by the storm needs to find solace in the fact that their communities can come out stronger from the rebuilding process.
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