WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -- Hurricane Irene could result in about Seven billion dollars in economic loss, but a University of Maryland professor sees an economic upside, as well.
"Absolutely...We rebuild better. On the shore folks will often build better properties, better-constructed, larger, to bring more tourism to the area.
"In New York City where they are rebuilding the infrastructure, a lot of that needed to be done but a lot of that, they'll likely make it with more capacity and so forth, so there is an upside to this. It's like a stimulus program but private sector directed, " said Peter Morici, who teaches at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.
"It will be about 30 billion dollars over two years. It's certainly not going to pull us out of our malaise but it will be a lift to the construction industry," Morici said.
Morici says that should translate to about 15 thousand jobs.
Irene caused less damage than feared when it appeared it was going to hit with much stronger force. At that time, economic damage estimates topped 20 billion dollars.
"We anticipate a economic loss around seven to eight billion dollars.
"The unknown factor here, the uncertainty, comes from the flooding. It is very difficult to estimate damages from the flooding and the impact, the direct impact of flooding on structures, on infrastructures, and also the indirect impact on loss of business.
"Power outages are widespread and these can take quite a few days and interrupt businesses, and have an negative impact on economic activity," said Jan Vermeiren, the CEO of Silver Spring's Kinetic Analysis Corporation, which studies the economic impact of natural disasters.
Who suffers that seven billion dollar hit?
"Well, unfortunately, less than half of that will come from the insurance industry. Much of the loses caused by flooding are not covered by private insurance," he told 9News Now.
"When we talk about losses it's really a realignment of resources in the economy.
"It's a loss to the insurance industry when they have to pay out, but it's a gain to those who do the cleanup, who are contracted to do the repairs and reconstruction but, in this case, given the weak economy and the stress suffered by the local governments, there will be less money available for repairs that is not covered by insurance.
"Small business owners are stressed already, homeowners: the same thing.
"The question is will the banks lend to finance that reconstruction. That's a big question given the reluctance of the banks to issue new loans," Vermeiren said.