In general, yes. In fact, RIMS was used to analyze the economic impacts of Hurricanes Andrew in 1992 and Charley in 2004. However, using RIMS multipliers for analyzing the impacts of natural or man-made disasters requires care, because such disasters can cause substantial changes to the structure of the local economy.

In the case of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, there was severe damage and flooding of residences and businesses in many parts of the New Orleans metropolitan area, and mandatory evacuation was ordered for the entire city. Such a dramatic alteration of the structure of a local economy makes using multipliers from regional input-output models like RIMS highly problematic. Regional multipliers reflect the industry linkages in a local economy at a given time, and so are best used to study less catastrophic events where those linkages are for the most part preserved. See the RIMS User Handbook for more details on what factors need to be taken into account when using RIMS multipliers.

As long as the damage did not result in major changes to the structure of the local economy, RIMS multipliers can be used to estimate the economic impacts of natural or man-made disasters. For example, if tourism declines because a hurricane damages some, but not all, of the casinos or hotels in a metropolitan area, then RIMS could be used to estimate the impact on the area of the decline in tourism. Similarly, if some of the manufacturing or other firms in the area are forced to close due to a hurricane, RIMS multipliers could be used. Please refer to the RIMS documentation for more details.

How can I obtain further information about BEA's regional income and product accounts?