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LSU economist estimates one- year recovery period from flood

5 months 4 weeks 20 hours ago August 22, 2016 Aug 22, 2016 Monday, August 22 2016 August 22, 2016 11:03 AM in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE – With 31 inches of rain, 13 people dead, more than 30,000 residents and 1,400 rescued, some say it will take one year to recover from the recent flood damage that struck the state last week.

James Richardson, LSU economist and professor of public administration, says that the state will take one year to fully recognize the economic impact of the flood.

"Businesses, for the most part, will get back up and running quickly. Perhaps not some small businesses in areas badly hit like Denham Springs … but national chains will have resources and additional dollar amounts to get (going again)," Richardson said.

For the short-term, Richardson said that the local economy will see a boost as residents will need items like appliances, furniture, and vehicles to replace those lost in the flood. Richardson said that big stores and chains like Target, Walmart and Costco will likely see a spike in sales due to residents needing to buy basic items.

He says that a lot of "new dollars: are being added immediately to the local economy, however it will eventually drop.

"In about a year or so, that's when you start seeing the drop-off," Richardson said. "(People think), 'I don't need to buy more things and I need to start paying back my debt.'

Richardson said that the state's economy will also feel the effects of the flood in a different way than one might think.

"The first element is it's taking all of the time of the governor, the commissioner of administration, and most of the cabinet officers to deal with this. So that means that if there's any other pressing issues, they really just have to put them on the back burner and everybody understands that," Richardson said. "In terms of dollars, the governor has been very upfront in saying he's not going to let the budget prevent him in terms of response. And probably (the state government) has people working on how do we get this money back? There will be different federal mechanisms to do that."

Richardson says that a more complicated issue than the economy is housing as most people did not have flood insurance. He says this means that private insurance dollars will not be substantial in contributing to recovery, rather residents will have to rely on personal assets, refinancing their homes and borrowing from banks.

"The first element is it's taking all of the time of the governor, the commissioner of administration, and most of the cabinet officers to deal with this. So that means that if there's any other pressing issues, they really just have to put them on the back burner and everybody understands that," Richardson said. "In terms of dollars, the governor has been very upfront in saying he's not going to let the budget prevent him in terms of response. And probably (the state government) has people working on how do we get this money back? There will be different federal mechanisms to do that," he said.

However, despite Richardson's predictions, he remains positive.

"People are tough, people are resilient and they will always rise to the occasion."

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