The short timeframe often faced when developing damage estimates requires having a strategic plan or system for conducting an assessment. During the first half of the previous decade, damage assessments in Louisiana focused predominately on revenue losses associated with drought and excessive rainfall. Given the direct nature of these impacts, little thought was given to developing a strategic plan for addressing more complex issues. When two major hurricanes made landfall in Louisiana, one in 2005 and then again in 2008, this informal approach to developing damage assessments proved to be inadequate to address the numerous impacts associated with the storms within a two to three week time frame that was being requested by policy makers. 

The sheer magnitude of the 2005 and 2008 hurricanes showed the need for a system that would allow for an effective flow of information from the parish (county) level to the state level. Information on the physical damages collected at the parish (county) level had to flow to the state level where it was collected, summarized, and used in developing economic impact estimates. Variability in data collection made it extremely difficult to quickly and accurately develop statewide economic impact estimates. It was found that having a system that provided guidelines to parish (county) level personnel in conducting the physical damage assessment and which provided uniformity in the type and amount of information being collected, increased not only the timeliness of the assessment, but also provided an avenue to increase the detail and reliability of the estimates.

It also became apparent during the hurricanes that decisions had to be made on what issues could and could not be adequately addressed. Unlike direct impacts, indirect impacts to rural economies were found to be more difficult to identify and often evolve more slowly over time. Also, depending on the severity of the storm, economic linkages used in the creation of an industry multiplier for a region may no longer exist making them invalid for assessment purposes (Guidry, Caffey, and Fannin, 2008; Fannin and Guidry, 2010).