U.S. Jewelry Industry Responds to Katrina’s Devastation

Hurricane Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in American history, has wreaked destruction, economic havoc, and personal grief on jewelry businesses in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the panhandle of Florida. Losses for the region will be in the billions, say state and federal officials and insurers. Many jewelers’ businesses were destroyed or damaged from gale-force winds, flooding, and, in some cases, looting. The homes of many jewelers and their employees also suffered damage or destruction. “Our city is devastated and may never be the same. We are unsure about the future of our business,” said a New Orleans jeweler in a private Sept. 1 e-mail to the Independent Jewelers Organization. The greatest cost is the human toll. At press time, there were no reports of jewelers or staff who died in the hurricane, but a number were still missing or couldn’t be reached four

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