Down but Not Out: Alabama Recovering from Tornadoes

Volume 14 Number 1
First Quarter 2012

In April 2011, the Southeast was hit by a destructive wave of tornadoes in one of the deadliest series of storms since at least 1950. Alabama was hit the hardest, with nearly 250 deaths, more than 2,400 people injured, and an estimated $1.1 billion in property damage.

In "Down but Not Out: Alabama Recovering from Storms," featured in the first quarter 2012 issue of EconSouth, Michael Chriszt, an assistant vice president in the Atlanta Fed's research department, notes that the University of Alabama's recent national college football championship victory was symbolic of "how the state's people and its economy have risen to the challenge of rebuilding" following the devastating storms.

The article explores the economic impact of the storms, a calculation that was complicated by the broader slowdown in economic activity that occurred around the same time that the storms hit. Indeed, as Chriszt notes, "the storms magnified the larger deceleration in economic activity over the summer, as damaged and destroyed businesses struggled to restart operations.

Chriszt also highlights the recovery process currently underway in the state. Despite the dual setbacks of the tornadoes and the broader economic slowdown, the state's total employment rose nearly 7,000 last year. Further, other indicators, such as business sentiment, suggest that the state's economy is "on the mend," Chriszt writes.

As localities continue the recovery process, many governments are incorporating economic development principles into their rebuilding and recovery efforts as they seek to "emerge renewed and bettered for the future," Chriszt notes. These efforts, in conjunction with a sustainable economic recovery, have most of the affected areas "poised to experience positive growth and increased employment in 2012."

To read more about Alabama's recovery following the storm, see the full article, available in print and online.