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Huntsville braces to be battered once more


Every day there is more bad news for the area.

As the recession continues, every day, there is not only more bad economic news, there is ongoing disaster that exacerbates the bad economic news. Huntsville has fared well, and is frequently listed among the number one cities in the nation. But the reality is that Huntsville sits in the center of an area that has already been hit really hard in the last couple of months.

So, where do we sit?

Two hours away, May 1-2, Nashville was hit by the biggest disaster the city has suffered since the Civil War. Damages are still being accessed; but the number is nearly $1.5 billion. That is just physical damage.

The flood has already claimed 4,416 jobs. Those are just unemployment claims and do not account for the self-employed, who are not eligible for unemployment insurance. It does not account for what is to come either. Opryland Hotel, for one example, will not be able to reopen for months and will layoff another 1,743 people in coming weeks.

Approximately 9,500 are employed in businesses that either sustained such damage they do not know whether they will be able to continue in business or they work in areas so affected by the flood; those areas will no long support the businesses that employ them. What that boils down to is that, in addition to what the city has already suffered, with a conservative realistic prediction, at least another 10,000 more families face gravely uncertain economic futures before Nashville fully recovers from that flood.

The Nashville flood, one of the largest natural disasters this country has ever known, did not get a whole lot of media coverage since in the same instant the nation was also facing one of the largest environmental disasters in its history.

The BP oil spill has already decimated mile after mile of shoreline and undersea plumes of oil are traveling ever further in the currents of the Gulf. Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida have all been affected. But the gushing oil is not close to being contained and the environmental and economic devastation are both spreading.

Where it stands at this point:

Although BP is expected to employ 4,500 workers to help in the clean-up, as of June 8, there had already been 37,000 damage loss claims filed due to the spill. This does not account for the claims that are in process. There have been 12,000 new unemployment claims in Louisiana alone. More will come. As the spill makes its way along the Gulf Coast, Florida has already asked for an escrow of $2.5 billion to cover anticipated losses. They are bracing for what could be a $10 billion hit to their state and a loss of 200,000 tourism jobs alone.

In addition to jobs lost because of the moratorium on oil drilling, damage claims from the BP oil spill have been filed by fishermen, restaurant owners, hotels, and many other area business and property owners.

Shuttle Discovery launches. NASA photo. 

Shuttle losses:

Before the oil ever started gushing, efforts were underway in Washington to help mitigate the impact on the Space Coast economy when the Space Shuttle is retired next year. Federal money has been set aside to help the soon to be displaced Shuttle workers in Florida. However, Florida is not the only area that will suffer massive layoffs and job losses when Shuttle is retired. The Houston area may lose as many as 7,000 jobs. Another 5,000 are on the line in Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Texas, and Utah. Huntsville will be hit in that count.


And then there is Constellation. It will impact Huntsville the hardest of all. The still proposed cancellation of the Constellation program was detailed in the FY 2011 Federal Budget Proposal. Despite the fact, it has yet to be approved and debate continues as to whether the cancellation is even legal, substantial layoffs are on the near horizon.

ATK, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Pratt Whitney Rocketdyne all have Huntsville employees who will be affected. Layoffs are also pending in Texas, Utah, Colorado, and Florida.

Boeing was the first of the Huntsville contractors to announce their plans. They will pass out layoff slips on July 2. In an effort to avoid layoffs, Lockheed Martin is moving affected workers to other positions within the company. Other contractors have yet to comment. Constellation layoffs will effect subcontractors and support service employees as well.

Just for what-if speculation:

How much can this area withstand? What is it being asked to withstand? What can we expect in Huntsville? What can our Southern neighbors expect? Is anybody in Washington looking at the big picture as to what is really happening in this area? What about the effects to the other areas, which by their connectedness are also affected?

These numbers are at best preliminary. They will change, and most of those changes will not be for the better. The effects of them all will have a trickle down economic effect into surrounding areas and business. We are all interdependent and we are all affected. Who will have the where withal and economic stability left to look back to their neighbors after 2010 is over?

For more information see:

 This article is part of the Exploring Huntsville Examiner Series. Your comments and suggestions are welcome.  Subscribe to this feed and get an email update each time a new article is published.

Copyright 2010 Regina Garson. All rights reserved.


  • Terry Hurlbut - Essex County Conservative Examiner 5 years ago

    Perhaps Huntsville will have to transform itself into a self-sufficient economy.

  • Kristen Wilkerson - America in Photos Examiner 5 years ago

    Good information!

  • L. Shepherd - Celebrity Adoption Examiner 5 years ago

    This area was voted one of the top 10 places to weather the recession. The unemployment rate is about half that of the rest of the country. I'm not worried much about these few losses. And Terry- no economy is self sufficient. This isn't the Dark Ages. The economies of the entire world are intertwined, as the current recession clearly demonstrates.

  • Kim Bogin 5 years ago

    This has been a tough year. Some devastating photos.

  • Adam Sawyer 5 years ago

    Just terrible news for the whole region.

  • Natalie 5 years ago

    It is so sad - I hope there is some upturn very soon.

  • Scott Knutson - Philly Mystical-Spirituality Exami 5 years ago

    When one door closes, another opens. It's just finding that door that's difficult.

  • Karen Petersen, Huntsville Healthy Living Examiner 5 years ago

    Regina, great job showcasing each situation. Really puts it all into perspective.

  • Montreal health&mental health examiner 5 years ago

    terrible news for the area but hopefully some help will be on the way.

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