Damage from Hurricane Sandy is bad news for homeowners, but it's good news for plumbers, carpenters, tree surgeons, trash haulers, carpet cleaners, scrap dealers and a host of other businesses whose services are now in peak demand.
Bernard Baumohl, executive director of the Economic Outlook Group in Princeton, N.J., predicts that recovery efforts in the Northeast will add half a percentage point to U.S. GDP. "We're looking at some major reconstruction taking place at homes, boats, bridges, boardwalks, parks and public transportation," he told the Newark Star-Ledger Sunday.
Economics professor Peter Morici at the R.H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, estimates that while economic losses from Sandy could range from $35 billion to $45 billion, the economic payoff from reconstruction could be as much as $36 billion, plus another $10 billion gain, afterwards, from having an improved and more modern infrastructure.
The biggest beneficiaries of Hurricane Sandy include:
-Disaster Recovery Companies: ProStar Residential Disaster Cleanup in Milford, Conn., reports its phones are ringing nonstop from customers asking for help fixing broken windows and flooded basements. The International Herald Tribune quotes Dough Palmieri, owner of his own construction company in Middlefield, as saying, "I always look forward to a natural disaster."
-Tree Surgeons: Ridgewood Tree Service in Bergen County, New Jersey, tells the Washington Post it is getting 200 phone calls a day, non-stop. At North Jersey Tree Specialists in Wayne, N.J., the office manager, Tara Gallagher, told the Newark Star-Ledger, "We're ridiculously busy. We're swamped getting trees out of people's properties."
-Generator and Pump Makers. Manufacturers as far away from the disaster as Minnesota and Wisconsin are benefiting from the Northeast's urgent need for more electrical generators, both portable and fixed. Todd Teske, chairman and CEO of generator-maker Briggs & Stratton in Wauwatosa, told the Business Journal of Milwaukee his company has ramped up production and authorized more overtime; it soon will be hiring more workers. The same holds true for competitors Generac Holdings (maker of home standby and portable generators) and Kohler Company.
Pentair, a major pump manufacturer in Golden Valley, Minn., says it expects to make $10 million in Sandy-related emergency sales to customers in New York and New Jersey.
-Carpet Cleaners: These are boom times for companies like Century Carpet Cleaning in Ocean City, N.J. Owner Rob Greenebaum told the Salisbury, Md., Daily Times on Sunday that he had been up since 5 am Wednesday, working nonstop. "I'm running on adrenaline," Greenebaum told the newspaper, "But this is what we do for a living." Eleven Century trucks are now at work in Wayne, N.J., and Greenebaum says he is bringing in extra drying equipment by the tractor-trailer load from contractors in other states as reinforcements.