Economic Storm Brewing After Hurricanes?

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the anticipation of Hurricane Rita are making economic impacts, both large and small, forcing many people to make minor changes in their everyday lives.

Damage from Hurricane Katrina is estimated at $50 billion, likely making it the most expensive storm ever in the United States.

Debbie Peacock says she's pinching a few pennies in return.

Debbie says, "We cook more at home and we picnic here at Lake Ella. Not only is the atmosphere beautiful, but it's cost efficient to bring our lunch."

Financial experts say individual companies took quite a hit from Hurricane Katrina, forcing many to close for months. Retail sales and the unemployment rate also feeling the blow.

Bruce Hagan, President of Rai Investments, says, "Much of the unemployment new claims that we're seeing will be temporary in nature because some of these people will return to their homes and return to some of their former workplaces, but in the short-term, that does create a little bit of a bloated unemployment rate figure."

One of the biggest impacts of Hurricane Katrina that first comes to the minds of most is, of course, gas prices.

Jim Smith, President of the Florida Petroleum Marketers & Convenient Stores Association, says, "We're probably going to get back over three dollars a gallon for unleaded, the possibility exists. A great deal is still unknown."

David Chason, who works in Tallahassee, says, "Our parents are on a fixed income. Their traveling is really limited because they don't have much to live off, so they really have to watch it."

Other areas impacted by economically by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are industrial production, housing permits and new home sales.

Financial planner Bruce Hagan says Hurricane Katrina had a huge impact on the nation's economy, but says it is controlled and the U.S. should bounce back.