Goods and Services Providers
As we have discussed in chapter 3, the post-disaster environment presents several unique challenges for disaster victims. Critically, as a result of the disaster, there is a sudden increase in the demand for certain goods and services, especially contracting services, building materials, and household items. As Chamlee-Wright (2010: 44) describes, “disaster sparks fierce demand for essential goods, services, and expertise the ordinary person does not possess.” Moreover, there is a sudden disruption in the pre-disaster sources of these goods and services, since many of the enterprises that serviced the area prior to the disaster as well as many of the employees of those enterprises will also be affected by the disaster. Entrepreneurs recognize this increased demand and work to satisfy it by resuming pre-disaster operations, offering goods and services that they did not offer prior to the disaster, or reorienting pre-disaster enterprises and service offerings to meet the now heightened demand. In the language we introduced in chapter 3, entrepreneurs lower the cost of returning and rebuilding and/or increase the benefits associated with returning and rebuilding by restoring or providing new goods and services. For instance, contractors, carpenters, plumbers, and electricians enter the post-disaster market (often from nearby communities) or expand their activities and offerings, thus, making available the technical skills needed to repair and rebuild homes. Similarly, entrepreneurs create or reopen establishments that sell groceries, clothing, furniture, appliances, and other household goods, allowing victims to replace items that were lost during the disaster. Additionally, entrepreneurs create or reopen restaurants, day care centers, schools, gas stations, laundromats, pharmacies, and other enterprises that offer essential services.
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- 1.Sometimes entrepreneurs are incentivized to provide necessary goods and services to disaster victims because the increased demand for certain goods and services post-disaster can result in their being sold at a higher price than is typical during mundane times. This, however, has been described as price gouging and has been viewed by some as being morally impermissible. We do not take a position on the moral permissibility or impermissibility of charging disaster victims a higher price after the disaster than they could have paid for a purchase before the disaster. See Zwolinski (“The Ethics of Price Gouging,” Business Ethics Quarterly 18, no. 3 (2008): 347–378), however, for an ethical defense of price gouging.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 13.See Kessler et al. (“Trends in Mental Illness and Suicidality after Hurricane Katrina,” Molecular Psychiatry 13 (2008): 374–384) and Jaycox et al. (“Children’s Mental Health Following Hurricane Katrina: A Field Trial of Trauma-Focused Psychotherapies,” Journal of Traumatic Stress 23, no. 2 (2010): 223–231) for a discussion of the mental and general health issues that affected Katrina victims.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 19.There was reported looting in Belle Harbor, Coney Island, parts of Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Following Hurricane Katrina, there were many reports of looting. However, the literature suggests that the impression there was rampant looting in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina is fueled by sensational media reports rather than actual figures (Tierney et al., “Metaphors Matter: Disaster Myths, Media Frames, and Their Consequences in Hurricane Katrina,” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 604, no. 1 (2006): 57–81; Barsky et al., “Disaster Realities in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: Revisiting the Looting Myth,” Natural Hazards Center Quick Response Report, No. 184 (2006), http://udspace.udel.edu/bitstream/handle/19716/2367/Misc%20Report%2053.pdf?sequence=1.; Rodriguez et al., “Rising to the Challenges of a Catastrophe: The Emergent and Prosocial Behavior Following Hurricane Katrina,” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 604, no. 1 (2006): 82–101).CrossRefGoogle Scholar