Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas last week resulting in record rains and devastating floods across a large portion of eastern Texas. 50 counties have reported flooding, over 30,000 people are reported in shelters, 300,000 people were left without electricity and a hundred thousands homes damaged. Estimated costs for recovery are still climbing and currently are reaching the $200 billion mark. Our sincere concern goes out to all those suffering in the storm’s wake. This storm will have an effect reaching much farther than it’s direct storm track. Here are some thoughts to consider:
- Flooding and power outages will force the relocation of many families. When the flood waters recede, homes, if they are still in place, will be for the most part, uninhabitable. Where will victims stay while they’re cleaning up? According to the National Flood Insurance program, only a small percentage of people have flood insurance. Those that do will be able to go through the claims process and wait while funds are processed. Those that don’t will need to begin the process of qualifying for funds to begin the reclamation process. Many may not have the ability to qualify or be physically able to replace their homes. In the case of flooding during Hurricane Katrina, thousands of people simply left for places unknown. This may be the case for Texas residents as well. Making places for people to live, creating jobs that they can work in to support themselves and security are concerns that will be faced by any community where they go. Water access, sewage treatment and electricity, food and shelter will be critical for those remaining.
- School children may miss classes or need to change schools completely based on family relocations. Their school records and class assignments will be in question. How long will they need to catch up?
- Texas has several large international shipping ports, petro-chemical production businesses and even online businesses whose productivity is being reduced. These business interruptions will be felt wherever their products go.
- Supply line interruptions and oil refineries shut down or damaged could lead to fuel shortages and higher gasoline and jet fuel prices across the country.
- When the waters recede and recovery work begins, where will the workers come from, how long will it take to get supplies, and how will they be paid for?
- Thousands of pets have been abandoned and are being transported to other states. How will these “family members” be cared for and reunited?
- Curfews have been in place in many affected cities to prevent looting and other crimes. If criminal activities are curtailed, the criminals will relocate too, often taking their criminal activities with them.
- Warm weather (average high in September is 89ºF), high humidity (80-90%) and standing water will create growing conditions for mosquitoes and other organisms that can cause sickness. Wet home interiors will quickly grow mold, another sickening agent. Sanitation needs will also be a concern. Primary healthcare restoration will be critical.
Recovery from this disaster will take sometime, but we know that Texans are tough and will make it.
Billie Nicholson, Editor