WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Commerce Secretary William M. Daley and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director James Lee Witt today announced the release of an assessment of the economic impact of Hurricane Floyd on Virginia communities. The assessment was completed by the Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration (EDA) at the request of FEMA.
The assessment will help affected communities recover from the disaster by providing them with data and recommendations to influence initial recovery decision-making as well as to contribute to long-range mitigation initiatives and strategic planning.
The assessment focuses on the city of Franklin and the adjacent counties of Isle of Wight and Southampton, which were especially hard hit by flooding associated with the Nottoway and Blackwater rivers. In the focus area, 206 businesses were impacted by flooding with an initial damage estimate of $35 million.
Of these 206 businesses, 182 are concentrated within Franklin's downtown business district, an important component of the local and regional economy. In addition, vital public facilities such as the City Hall, police and fire stations and the wastewater treatment plant experienced major damage.
While the assessment notes that the Commonwealth of Virginia should expect negligible direct impacts on employment, wages and industrial output as a result of damages caused by floodwaters, it concludes that the disruption of commercial activity is expected to cause $13.1 million in lost revenue in the next year for businesses located in the Franklin area. In addition, it is estimated there was as much as $17 million in crop losses in the two-county area adjacent to Franklin.
"The assessment's recommendations focus on two key messages," Daley said. "First, it is critical for the business community and government at the local, state, and federal levels to establish a partnership to restore and reinvigorate the economy of the affected area as soon as possible, and second, a disaster such as Hurricane Floyd provides an opportunity for the business community to build back stronger and better by incorporating economic and physical disaster mitigation," Daley said.
"When disaster strikes, any business may be affected - from mom-and pop stores to multibillion dollar corporations. The impact on the community is often severe," said FEMA Director Witt. "But there are steps to take ahead of time to limit or prevent damage. That is the focus of FEMA's Project Impact: Building Disaster Resistant Communities."
The assessment recommends that:
- The city of Franklin should designate a single point of contact responsible for assisting the business community with economic recovery activities.
- The city of Franklin should give first priority to planning and implementing ways to limit future damage to its downtown business district, and with the adjacent county governments, should actively support measures to protect the city's major industrial infrastructure.
- The state historical preservation officer should prepare, and the city of Franklin should distribute to all businesses within the National Register Historic District, briefing materials concerning national and state regulations, requirements and procedures regarding restoration of structures affecting the downtown historic district.
- The Commonwealth of Virginia Departments of Business Assistance and Housing and Community Development should assist with financing a small-business incubator facility, which will provide technical assistance, equipment and office space to businesses located within the downtown business district.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture should designate the city of Franklin as an enterprise community.