Hurricane Sandy to Have Long-Term Impact on Real Wealth

November 1, 2012; 4:37 AM ET
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Reporter Christina Kristofic tweeted, "The Montgomery Mall is closed. And it looks like #Sandy's winds took down all the fencing around the Wegman's."

Assessments of the economic impact of a severe storm often try to weigh the lost productivity from businesses closed due to the storm against the increased jobs and spending created by the task of repairing the damage. This approach fails to consider the long-term picture, AccuWeather Founder and President Dr. Joel N. Myers said.

"Those people who say storms like Sandy are good because they stimulate economic activity are missing the point. The long-term economic impact of Hurricane Sandy involves more than just its impact on gross domestic product," Dr. Myers said.

"As a result of the storm, there has been a loss in the wealth of many parties which cannot be made up by economic activity," Dr. Myers explained. "Some of it is the wealth of people who suffer damage that is not insured. Some of it is the wealth of insurance companies. Either way, we cannot replace the buildings and the boardwalks and the things that have been lost without spending money and using resources that would have otherwise gone into other things in the future."

Within the mix of people and companies impacted by a storm like Sandy, there will still be both winners and losers, notes Dr. Myers.

Companies utilizing weather forecasting services like those from AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions will be able to stem the impact of Sandy, says Dr. Myers. One example is AccuWeather client Lowe's Home Improvement, with more than 1,745 stores in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Stacey Lentz, a spokesperson for Lowe's, spoke with Advertising Age magazine on Monday. "We have relationships with FEMA and AccuWeather that give us insight on where the storm is headed and where we need to position product."

Homeowners, particularly those with properties on the coastline, stretching from North Carolina to Maine, could see the value of their homes decline. "In many cases, homeowners have counted on sand dunes to protect beach front property," Dr. Myers said, "but where the sand dunes are washed away, and the homeowners are not fully insured, they may be forced to sell over the upcoming year. Sandy then could have a negative impact on real estate prices in those areas." For those who remain, properties will cost more to insure, adding to the impact for homeowners.

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