Impact of Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas: A View from the Sky

Accesible PDF image
Jan 2020
Hurricane Dorian has been among the most devastating natural disasters ever to hit The Bahamas. The estimated damages and losses from it amount to US$3.4 billion (IDB, 2019), a number equivalent to a quarter of the countrys GDP. Dorians effects also resulted in the revision of The Bahamas economic growth forecast. The IMF reduced GDP growth estimates for 2019 to 0.9 percent, and the economy is expected to contract in 2020. Under these circumstances, this paper proposes a methodology to track the economic recovery of The Bahamas on a monthly basis. The results suggest that the GDP growth rate in most of the 19 islands that comprise The Bahamas suffered a sharp decrease because of Hurricane Dorian. The islands that suffered the most from this event have recorded significant decreases in their economic activity. Abaco shows a reduction in monthly economic activity of 54 percent comparing September 2019 to September 2018, and Grand Bahama registered a 34 percent decrease. These estimates were obtained by comparing the spatial variation of satellite night lights as an indicator of the country's economic activity before and after Hurricane Dorian. Satellite night lights observed from the space are publicly available and have been used before to measure economic activity. This study also presents a new annual series of regionalized GDP estimates by island from 1992 to 2018, and on a monthly basis, from January 2012 to September 2019.