At Least One Group Welcomes Sandy’s Healing Power

The construction industry is licking its chops as plans for Sandy’s recovery take shape. After years of idleness due to the housing bust, builders and contractors find themselves ready to roll up their sleeves, and in need of a new workforce.
November 4, 2012, 7am PST | Erica Gutiérrez
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"I always look forward to a natural disaster," said Doug Palmieri, owner of Palmieri Construction in Middlefield, Conn. "The last two storms we had around here, the snow we had included, helped out the contracting business quite a bit."

Mr. Palmieri's assessment may sound crass, but for those in the construction industry, the damage incurred by Hurricane Sandy is a much-welcomed business opportunity. Construction companies along the East Coast are already inundated with calls, but are also concerned "about finding enough workers quickly," report Catherine Rampell and Shaila Dewan.

"Over the course of the recession, 60 to 75 percent of construction workers left the area because there was no work to keep them busy," said Pat Broom, owner of Phoenix Restoration, a 15-year-old company in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., on the Outer Banks.

Various factors, however, will slow reconstruction efforts. These include waiting for areas to dry out, for insurance companies to come through, and for out-of-state owners to be able to take action to restore their properties.

As the industry prepares for long-term recovery, experts consider the economic implications. Peter Morici, an economics professor a the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland estimates, "that the economic losses from Sandy would be $35 billion to $45 billion, but that economic benefits from reconstruction and its ripple effects would total about $27 billion to $36 billion, not including gains of about $10 billion ‘from a more modern and productive capital stock.'"

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Published on Wednesday, October 31, 2012 in The New York Times
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