2017 has already delivered two hurricanes that made national news, and with weather patterns only expected to become more extreme, there’s a chance we’ll face more of the same before storm season ends.
Powerful winds and flood tides can leave local infrastructure in a sad state, and with the crumbling state of much of our country’s infrastructure as is, this is severely impactful. The basic steps to recovery are usually familiar, especially to these at-risk areas. What are the long-term repercussions of such a storm though?
In Harm’s Way — The US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico
US offshore territories received the most damage of all areas affected by this recent bout of extreme weather. Parts of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix are being compared to war zones, with buildings stripped to bare materials and even plant life uprooted. St. Croix, the most populated island of the three, received the least damage because of its location 45 miles south of Irma’s direct impact.
More than 90% of power lines on the islands were wiped out by Irma and Maria. With little ability to uphold laws and maintain order, there have been stories of violent armed robberies and street gangs looting tourists and residents alike.
Millions of Puerto Ricans are without power after Irma left 12 dead and thousands homeless, and the concern for all three of these islands is that the aftereffects of the storms will take years to rebound from. Puerto Rico has struggled to get its economy running, and the reality of going without power for what could be months is that the island will essentially be back to square one.
Children on these islands won’t be able to attend school for weeks or months, and aid will need to be supplied to ensure that everyone gets to eat. Not all of that assistance comes from the United States — a team from Denmark recently visited St. Tomas and St. Croix to lend a hand.
Impacts on the Mainland
The catastrophic weather also impacted hundreds of thousands who live in the continental United States. Oil production has been stunted in Texas as refineries struggle to get back online after Harvey.
Goods that you buy at the store become more expensive during periods of extreme weather because it is unclear whether there will be access to more. In areas where farms harvest and sell fresh produce, many have lost a sizeable portion of their income because the weather damaged crops. Not long after recovering from struggles caused due to citrus greening, Florida’s citrus crop for 2017 has been effectively cut in half according to analysts.
Picking up the Pieces
The SEC is doing its job of stepping in to extend filing deadlines and evaluate the best course of action to help Americans living in affected areas cope. With some government funds already drying up, businesses should be prepared to cooperate with the SEC to ensure that relief is delivered effectively. Even with help from the government, the hardest-hit areas will require years to recover fully. Flood damage and broken infrastructure take time to correct.
Every time that something like this happens, we learn a little more about how to cope with the ravages of major storms. There is no way to stop the weather, but assistance from other communities and the government is crucial to rebuilding these areas to be more resilient in future storms.