Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Economic Effects of Recent Storms Will Linger for a Long Time

Jennifer Wheary

Shickshinny is a town with just one supermarket, gas station, pharmacy and bank. Right now, it has none.
The small down-valley community on the west side of the Susquehanna River has been crippled by the great flood of 2011. Of the 38 businesses in the small borough, only two survived -- a hair salon and an insurance office. No one seems to know when the other business owners could reopen -- or if they want to. "I don't know what the outlook is," a teary-eyed Shickshinny Mayor Beverly Moore said Thursday at her flooded Canal Street home, minutes after arriving from a 10-mile trip to Nanticoke to gas up her car. "I don't know what businesses are going to stay and what ones are going to go.”....... This is just another example of the fallout and lingering economic impact of recent bad weather across the country. There is a real tragedy brewing here as families who were already on the edge financially face the prospect of rebuilding their lives.

Industry experts estimate that cleanup and rebuilding for homeowners will cost $3-$7 billion. About half of those costs will be heaped upon families who do not have flood insurance, mostly because, one industry publication says, they do not live in designated flood zones. Snyder bought his house 12 years ago, and owned it "free and clear." With the home and a big part of the rest of his block in ruins, not to mention his base of business operations out of order, he's essentially starting over from scratch. What Snyder's situation and the situations of thousands of others like him across the country offer us is a natural experiment, a test of the limits and ups and downs of both our social safety net and opportunity infrastructure. Can average Americans and our government work together to rebuild and restore not only broken lives, but hope for the future?

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