The 2017 hurricane season is about over and it was active. In fact, the season ranks in the top ten most active seasons. Of the 16 named Atlantic Ocean storms, 10 became hurricanes. Six of the storms reached major hurricane status. Visit Dr. Philip Klotzbach of Colorado State University webpage for statistics. Naturally, many are experiencing an economic aftermath.
Economic aftermath of Hurricane Harvey
The first storm I wrote about was Hurricane Harvey. Even though Harvey lasted only two days, damage is extensive. This hurricane was a rainmaker. A report from Business Insider cites almost 52 inches of rain from the storm in Cedar Bayou. The economic aftermath will include repairing or replacing approximately 20,000 homes due to storm damage.
I met with some Houston residents and former residents in mid-September. Their eyewitness reports were hard to comprehend. The area of West Houston where I used to live and work was heavily flooded. The flooding came in part from engineered release of water from two dams. This intentional flooding is comparable to controlled burns. Minor flooding, while damaging some, saved many more homes and businesses from the destructive force of water. Each person I met with estimated a timeline of years for full recovery.
Hurricane Irma Economic Aftermath
Hurricane Irma followed Harvey. The pictures on this post are from a part of Central Florida Hurricane Irma struck. You can view pictures from just after the storm by clicking here. The economic aftermath was greater in South Florida, but Central Florida shares in the repercussions. For starters, much of the disaster relief naturally centered first on the damage in the Florida Keys.
Central Florida damage was due mostly to wind. Trees and tree limbs remain piled along roads in late October while the storm struck September 11. Blue tarp covers parts of roofs. Eventually, damaged roofs will be repaired even if out-of-area work crews are needed.
During the hurricane and immediately after, laborers lost clock time and wages. Insurance companies treat hurricane areas differently in the form of higher deductibles. Therefore, some homeowners with minor damage such as screens torn by tree limbs may be out-of-pocket for all expenses.
Additionally, small towns and cities will need to pay overtime for the clean-up efforts. The Federal government is paying a large proportion of these costs. In some places out-of-state crews aid local crews. The work crew in the pictures above and the video below hails from Ohio.
Property owners will re-landscape once the debris is removed. Homeowners may want to remove tree trunks. New sod will cover the grass areas killed by the piles of debris.
Destruction from Hurricane Maria
The very destructive Hurricane Maria is still causing hardship in Puerto Rico. Governmental issues compound the clean-up. One of the best analysis of the economic aftermath can be found in this The Economist article. It is impossible to tell at this point what the long-range impact will be. Thousands have left the island. At least one neighborhood is still stranded. According to the Miami Herald, a zip-line provides access to food and water.
Puerto Rico faces difficulty on many fronts. Since it is an island, individuals could not drive in to help as they did to the areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Additionally, Puerto Rico received a glancing blow from Hurricane Irma prior to the bull’s-eye hit of Hurricane Irma. Back to back storms created a greater need. The infrastructure of the island is in poor condition. Apparently the company hired to repair the electric grid may not have the manpower for a quick fix. Unfortunately, the timetable for restoring electricity to the entire island is Christmas. The citizens of Puerto Rico still have a long recovery ahead.
Natural Disaster Economic Aftermath
Humans cannot control natural disasters. 2017 to date has 15 separate billion dollar disasters in the United States alone. This article and chart from The Weather Channel show the locations and events. In addition to individual preparedness, one needs to heed other factors. Individuals who can choose where to live need to be aware of the surrounding environment. This would include fault lines, fire and flood dangers, and areas prone to blizzards, tornadoes and hurricanes.
However, many of us have little choice in where we live. The economic aftermath for those in this category can be mitigated to a certain extent. Buildings along coastal areas can be built on stilt foundations. Furthermore, one can construct hurricane strong rooms. Likewise, buildings in America’s tornado alley can also include rooms constructed to withstand the wind force. Construction codes can fortify buildings in areas prone to earthquakes. Certain types of landscaping can reduce fuel for fires. Thus, advanced mitigation of some factors diminishes economic aftermath of a disaster.