Visualizing the Scope of the Damage

We’ve all seen pictures of communities throughout the state devastated by the rains, tornadoes and flooding. These images are haunting. One thing I’ve been trying to get my head around is the scope of the damage.

Several days ago, I wrote that this was a statewide disaster. Governor Bredesen is seeking Federal aid for 52 counties, I wanted to see what that looked like.

Counties on the Federal list are in Green.
Counties that aren’t on the Federal list are in Blue.

52 Counties - Click to Embiggen

Every county in West Tennessee is effected to some degree or another. Because so much of West Tennessee’s land is farm land, the degree of the damage won’t be truly understood until the flooded farms and lost livestock are surveyed and counted.

Here are some agricultural statistics taken from the Governor’s 2010 Economic Outlook report.

  • Agriculture in Tennessee accounts for 11.4% of the state’s economy.
  • 40% of Tennessee’s land base is farmland, 2/3 of which is crop land.
  • 342,000 Tennesseans are employed by the agriculture industry in the state. (11% of the total workforce)
  • The economic impact of this disaster is going to be felt throughout the state for some time. The losses in more rural counties, will likely go unnoticed by the majority of the state for even longer. It’s hard for people, particularly city folk (I know I’m one too) to understand the challenges faced by rural Tennesseans. Most have neither the population density, nor the economic diversity to bounce back quickly. Crops don’t grow faster just because you want them to…neither does livestock. That loss of income is going to take a huge toll on these areas.

    We lost 500 farms in 2009, my guess is we’ll lose a whole lot more than that in 2010.

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