cloudy
Tuesday September 25th, 2018 3:15AM

Closed ports, lost power: How storm could hurt area economy

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ports are closing. Farmers are moving hogs to high ground. Dealers are parking cars in service bays for refuge. And up to 3 million energy customers in North and South Carolina could lose power for weeks.

Across the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia, businesses are bracing for the economic damage Hurricane Florence is expected to inflict on the area. Industries like tourism and agriculture will likely suffer, and the losses won't be easily or quickly overcome.

Once it makes landfall, Florence is expected to lash coastal communities with high winds and dump several feet of water. Flooding could prove devastating. The storm will likely damage homes and businesses, kill crops, drown livestock, wash away cars and suspend much of the area's economic activity.

"These storms can be very disruptive to regional economies, and it takes time for them to recover," said Ryan Sweet, an economist at Moody's Analytics.

Sweet said he thinks Hurricane Florence could cause the U.S. economy's growth to slow a few tenths of a percentage point, on an annual basis, in the July-September quarter. Michael Walden, an economist at North Carolina State University, calculates that Florence will deduct about $200 million of output a day from North Carolina's $550 billion-a-year economy until business returns to something close to normal.

It could have been worse. Labor Day marked the end of the peak tourism season in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and other coastal getaways. There are now fewer tourists to send away.

In fact, as with the aftermath of previous hurricanes, the region could eventually receive an economic boost once construction crews come out to rebuild and repair damage and as insurance payments and federal disaster aid flow in.

"The ironic thing is, when there's a rebuilding effort, that can energize local economies," Walden said.

"Typically, we see a stimulus effect that creates jobs and raises incomes for South Carolinians," said Joseph Von Nessen, a research economist at the University of South Carolina. Hiring is likely to be especially strong in construction and at retailers that sell building materials and supplies.

Hurricane Florence is slamming a region that is economically diverse as well as sizable. Combined, North and South Carolina boast an economy bigger than Saudi Arabia's. High-tech auto plants co-exist with beachfront bed-and-breakfast inns and peanut farms. North Carolina's Duplin and Sampson counties, just inland, sell more hogs and pigs than anywhere else in America.

Duke Energy warned that Florence could cut off power to anywhere from 1 million to 3 million customers in North and South Carolina, potentially leaving them without electricity for several weeks, said spokeswoman Grace Rountree.

Two big fuel pipelines stand in the hurricane's path, but analysts say they think the storm is unlikely to disrupt the flow of gasoline or other products. Still, analysts for S&P Global Platts say it's possible the Colonial and Plantation pipelines could be affected by power outages or damage to pump stations. Those pipelines carry fuel from the Gulf Coast to much of the eastern United States.

Analysts expect a temporary boost in gasoline demand as people flee Florence, followed by weaker demand during and immediately after the storm. But the damage to energy facilities is likely to be far milder than the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey, which last year battered Houston, the heart of the U.S. energy industry. Flooding closed refineries along the Texas and Louisiana coasts and caused gasoline prices to spike.

The Port of Virginia in Hampton Roads was closed Wednesday but planned to reopen Thursday on news that Florence had veered south. The port in Charleston, South Carolina, though, was suspending operations from Thursday through Saturday and possibly on Sunday.

And Florence will almost surely depress auto production in South Carolina, where Volvo already has closed a new factory near Charleston because it's in an area under mandatory evacuation orders, said spokesman Russell Datz. Volvo is coordinating with parts suppliers so it will be ready to resume production, according to Datz, who said he wasn't sure how long the plant would be down.

Three hours to the northwest in Spartanburg, BMW's sprawling SUV factory remains open. But rail cars with vehicles bound for Charleston and export markets abroad have been moved to secure areas until the storm passes. Spokesman Kenn Sparks said BMW is monitoring parts supply plants, which could be affected by the storm.

At auto dealerships in 48 counties of Virginia and North and South Carolina, Florence could destroy about 125,000 vehicles, Citi Investment Research analyst Itay Michaeli estimated in a note to investors. It also could cut September auto sales by about 110,000 vehicles, which would have to be made up later, he wrote.

Analysts at Cox Automotive predicted that Florence won't destroy as many cars as Hurricane Harvey did in the car-dependent Houston area. Though about 9 million vehicles are in Florence's path, the area has only about 162 vehicles per square mile — less than half the figure in car-crazy Houston. Many car dealerships on the coast were already closed Wednesday ahead of the storm.

But even inland dealerships are bracing for damage. Workers at Florence Toyota in Florence, South Carolina, plan to pull high-value luxury vehicles into the service bays on Thursday to protect them.

"We'll probably move some of our bigger trucks in front of the building to try to stop some of the debris," said Terrell Small, the new-car sales manager.

The city of Florence, about 70 miles northwest of Myrtle Beach, could absorb 70-to-110 mph winds and 3 to 6 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service. The area is under tropical storm and flash flood watches into the weekend.

Small said the precautions have worked in previous hurricanes, but he said he remained wary of the flooding potential from the storm with the same name as his town.

___

Krisher reported from Detroit. AP Business Writer David Koenig in Dallas also contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Agriculture, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Closed ports, lost power: How storm could hurt area economy
Closed businesses, drowned livestock, washed-away cars: Hurricane's likely economic impact
12:05AM ( 13 minutes ago )
The Latest: Florence weakens slightly, remains Category 3
Forecasters say Hurricane Florence has slightly weakened but remains a potentially catastrophic Category 3 storm as it continues toward North and South Carolina
11:59PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Storm's uncertain track sows fear; 10 million in crosshairs
Hurricane Florence is putting a corridor of more than 10 million people in the crosshairs as it closes in on the Carolinas, uncertainty over its projected path spreading worry across a wider swath of the Southeast
11:23PM ( 56 minutes ago )
U.S. News
LeMahieu hits 2-run homer in 9th, Rox beat D-backs 5-4
DJ LeMahieu hit a two-run homer off reliever Yoshihisa Hirano in the ninth and the NL West-leading Colorado Rockies rallied to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-4
12:11AM ( 8 minutes ago )
Stewart, Storm surge past Mystics 98-82 for WNBA title
Breanna Stewart led the Seattle Storm to their WNBA title, scoring 30 points in a 98-82 victory over the Washington Mystics in Game 3 of the best-of-five series
12:00AM ( 19 minutes ago )
Isbell wins 3 Americana Awards; Prine is artist of the year
Folk singer-songwriter John Prine won artist of the year for the second time in a row at the Americana Music Honors and Awards; Jason Isbell took home three awards, including album of the year
11:46PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Judge orders compound suspects remain in federal custody
A federal judge has ordered five former residents of a ramshackle New Mexico compound to remain jailed
11:49PM ( 29 minutes ago )
'60 Minutes' chief Jeff Fager fired over policy violation
Jeff Fager, top executive at CBS' '60 Minutes,' is out. He's been under investigation after being accused of groping women at parties and tolerating an abusive workplace.
10:31PM ( 1 hour ago )
Kavanaugh: I didn't recognize Parkland dad seeking handshake
Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey has released a new batch of "committee confidential" documents about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, even after a conservative judicial group referred his earlier disclosures to the Senate Ethics Committee
10:25PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Tropical Storm Olivia fades but still packs rain and wind
Maui has been hit with heavy rain and powerful winds as a gradually weakening tropical storm bears down on Hawaii
7:31PM ( 4 hours ago )
NYC to add nonbinary 'X' designation to birth certificates
New York City will allow people who don't identify as male or female to change the gender designation on their birth certificates to "X"
6:36PM ( 5 hours ago )
Jewish collector's descendant gets Nazi-looted Renoir back
The granddaughter of a Jewish art collector whose paintings were stolen by the Nazis has been reunited in New York with a Renoir
5:34PM ( 6 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
Russia: Pussy Riot activist treated for possible poisoning
Russian news reports say member of Russian protest group Pussy Riot hospitalized for possible poisoning, in grave condition
7:23PM ( 4 hours ago )
Abuse scandal hits diocese of cardinal set to meet with pope
As U.S. Catholic leaders head to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis about a growing church abuse crisis, the cardinal leading the delegation has been accused by two victims of not doing enough to stop an abusive priest
6:51PM ( 5 hours ago )
Video shows Weinstein caressing woman before alleged rape
A television network has aired video of Harvey Weinstein caressing a woman hours before she says he took her to a hotel and raped her
6:31PM ( 5 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Asian stocks rise on possible US-China talks amid tensions
Asian markets are mostly higher as a report that the U.S. had proposed a new round of trade negotiations with China boosted sentiment
11:23PM ( 57 minutes ago )
New Zealand dairy giant posts loss after China stake sours
New Zealand's largest company, which sells dairy products, says it will completely review its business after a disastrous financial year saw it post its first-ever loss
9:51PM ( 2 hours ago )
Survey: US companies in China hurt by tariff war
Survey: Two-thirds of US companies in China hurt by tariff war
9:47PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
Eldorado gets temporary OK to own Tropicana casino
Eldorado Resorts has been given temporary approval to own Atlantic City's Tropicana casino, part of a $1.85 billion acquisition of Tropicana Entertainment
6:59PM ( 5 hours ago )
US stocks wobble as trade hopes flicker and tech stocks slip
After a short-lived rally, US stocks finish mixed as energy companies climb along with oil prices and technology companies skid
4:38PM ( 7 hours ago )
Flickering trade hopes and tech stock losses hit US indexes
After a short-lived rally, US stocks are slightly lower overall as energy companies climb along with oil prices and technology companies skid
3:16PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
AP Online - Georgia News
Small private US college slashes tuition by $17K annually
A private liberal arts college with campuses in New Mexico and Maryland announced Wednesday a $17,000 reduction in its annual tuition and acknowledged that steady price increases in had inadvertently driven away students.
4:41PM ( 7 hours ago )
Japan opposition leader says its PM is too close to Trump
Japan's main opposition leader says the nation's prime minister is papering over differences on trade and other issues with President Donald Trump, and that could ultimately hurt the U.S.-Japan alliance
4:20PM ( 8 hours ago )
Japan opposition leader says its PM too close to Trump
Japan's main opposition leader says the nation's prime minister is papering over differences on trade and other issues with President Donald Trump, and that could ultimately hurt the U.S.-Japan alliance
4:10PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
The Latest: Trump says 'protection of life' a priority
President Donald Trump is urging those living in the path of Hurricane Florence to comply with all evacuation orders and emergency instructions
6:50PM ( 5 hours ago )
The Latest: Concerns of widespread flooding in SC
An official from South Carolina's Department of Natural Resources says officials are concerned about the potential for widespread flooding after Hurricane Florence's arrival, particularly in the northeastern part of the state
3:56PM ( 8 hours ago )
The Latest: More than 300K evacuate South Carolina coasts
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster says more than 300,000 people have already evacuated the state's coasts ahead of Hurricane Florence
3:13PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
Philippines braces for most powerful typhoon this year
Philippine officials say they plan to evacuate thousands of villagers, shut down schools and offices and scramble to harvest rice and corn as the most powerful typhoon so far this year menacingly roared toward the country's north
10:30AM ( 13 hours ago )
'Big and vicious': Hurricane Florence closes in on Carolinas
Motorists are streaming inland, trying to get out of harm's way, as Hurricane Florence closes in on the Carolinas
10:58PM ( 1 day ago )
Hurricane could flood many waste sites, creating toxic brew
Florence could flood manure pits, coal ash dumps and other industrial sites, creating toxic brew
5:54PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Agriculture
Markets Right Now: Stocks mixed, energy gains ahead of storm
Stocks mixed at open, energy stocks gains as Hurricane Florence heads for the U.S. East Coast.
9:44AM ( 14 hours ago )
Asian stocks fall as China reacts to US tariffs
Asian shares are falling as China delayed issuing licenses to American businesses hoping to operate in the country amid the looming threat of more trade tariffs from Washington looms
2:29AM ( 21 hours ago )
The Latest: Airlines cancel flights ahead of Florence
Airlines are beginning to cancel flights ahead of Hurricane Florence making landfall later this week
11:46PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Utilities
The Latest: Florence weakens slightly, remains Category 3
Forecasters say Hurricane Florence has slightly weakened but remains a potentially catastrophic Category 3 storm as it continues toward North and South Carolina
11:59PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Storm's uncertain track sows fear; 10 million in crosshairs
Hurricane Florence is putting a corridor of more than 10 million people in the crosshairs as it closes in on the Carolinas, uncertainty over its projected path spreading worry across a wider swath of the Southeast
11:23PM ( 58 minutes ago )
Rinse, repeat: Rhode Island governor fight will mirror 2014
Rhode Island's Democratic governor won her party's nomination for a second term in Wednesday's primary, overcoming a spirited but poorly funded challenge, while the mayor of the state's second-largest city earned the GOP nomination
11:22PM ( 59 minutes ago )
'Miraculous': Boy survives after meat skewer pierces skull
A 10-year-old Missouri boy is recovering after he was attacked by insects and tumbled from a tree, landing on a meat skewer that penetrated his skull from his face to the back of his head
10:50PM ( 1 hour ago )
New Mexico sues mobile app makers over kid privacy concerns
New Mexico is suing Google, Twitter and other companies that develop and market mobile gaming apps for children, saying the apps violate state laws by collecting personal information that could compromise privacy
9:48PM ( 2 hours ago )