We show that GIS based estimates of the economic impact of the 2005 hurricanes provide a more accurate characterization of affected businesses than widely reported estimates constructed from county level data. Our methodology relies on mapping business establishments into damage zones defined by remote sensing information provided by FEMA. Our methodology is based on pre-storm data, so estimates can be made available very quickly to inform the public as well as policy makers. Our GIS-based estimates indicate significantly smaller impacts on business payroll than previous estimates using county level data. Tests using post-storm data support our GIS methodology.
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