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Water Disaster's Impact On State's Bottom Line Expected To Be Neutral

Reported: Jan. 17, 2014 6:58 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Kennie Bass) - As work continues to repair the damage caused by the Freedom Industries chemical leak, life is just now beginning to return to normal for many of the 300-thousand people affected by the disaster.

"It was a tremendous inconvenience," Mark Muchow with the W.Va. Department of Revenue said. "It changed the way we do business in our personal lives and in our business life and it resulted in alternative purchasing."

That includes purchases at businesses throughout the nine county region. Food establishments, hotels and health care took the biggest hit because of the disaster. But while doors were locked where the water wasn't flowing, those types of business outside of the red zone were seeing a boom.

"St. Albans did well," Muchow said. "Teays Valley did well. Barboursville, Huntington did well. Even places like Beckley and Morgantown did well as people were searching for alternative services and alternative goods."

Muchow says consumers were still spending money during the "Do Not Use" water ban, they were just spending it on different things and in different places.

"Personal household spending probably did not change a lot," Muchow said. "We spent. We just spent in different ways"

State government may take the biggest hit because of the disaster. West Virginia had to spend unplanned money to help get through the crisis, while tax collections from shuttered operations dried up.

"Revenue and budget-wise the state probably spent a little more money and may take in a little less money," Muchow said. "So, from a state fiscal standpoint it may not be quite neutral, slightly negative. But overall, when the economic numbers come in this event should not in any great way affect those economic numbers."



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