Hurricane Sandy has cost Maryland an estimated $1.6 billion in its total economic activity, according to a Towson University economics professor.
That's everything from lost wages and productivity as businesses closed during the storm to lost sales at hotels, restaurants and stores, says Daraius Irani, director of the Regional Economic Studies Institute
at Towson. That figure doesn't include damages, which is estimated to be as high as $50 billion
across all the impacted states. Irani says he doesn't have a damage figure for Maryland.
Irani says the figure is based on the loss of commerce from people not going out to eat or buying cars and not going to work. It's also based on comparisons with Hurricane Isabel in 2003 and Hurricane Irene in 2011. While Isabel had a greater impact on Baltimore City, Sandy's impact is more wide spreading, walloping parts of Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore. Still, Maryland didn't suffer the same devastation as Manhattan's flooded subway system, Staten Island or New Jersey.
At this point, Irani appears to be the only researcher with a dollar estimate of the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Karen Glenn Hood, spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, replied to an inquiry that the department is working on an economic impact report.
Likewise, Tom Sadowski, President and CEO of Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore
, says the nonprofit may have figures later but at the moment, it only has anecdotal evidence.
Sadowski says he has heard of lost time in the office, missed business opportunities and shuttered stores. On the other hand, there was enough warning of the impending hurricane that people were able to make arrangements to work from home.
Says Sadowski, “Mainly, people were happy it wasn’t worse.”
Patrick Donoho, President of the Maryland Retailers Association, says that in the Baltimore metro area, many grocery stores stayed open on Monday and Tuesday during the height of the hurricane albeit with limited staff and limited hours. He says he personally heard from Giant, Safeway, Mars and Santoni’s supermarkets that they were open, as were two large hardware stores in the area.
By Wednesday, Oct. 31, almost all grocery stores in the area had reopened, Donoho says.
Statewide, Donoho says that the Eastern Shore was hardest hit as far as roads being closed and people being able to get to the stores that were open. “Baltimore metro saw less damage than farther north, in Harford, Cecil and some of Carroll counties,” he says.
“I don’t know what the day’s losses [per store] were but I do know that they’re gone. You never regain them,” says Donoho.
Mike Niemira, Chief Economist and Director of Research of the International Council of Shopping Centers, says the New York-headquartered members’ association, will be assessing the economic impact on malls and retailers over the next month.
So far, all he could say was that “a lot” of members had been affected, with the biggest impact in southern New Jersey and Philadelphia because of the storm’s path.
The Restaurant Association of Maryland says it had no data yet to report.
Sources: Towson University Regional Economic Studies Institute, Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, Maryland Retailers Association, International Council of Shopping Centers, Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development
Writer: Barbara Pash