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Houston: Really Open for Business?

Sylvester Turner

Roughly one week after Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner says the city is open for business. The optimistic statement gives hope to millions of residents and business owners who want to rapidly resume their lives. But just how accurate is the statement?

No doubt, there is plenty of good news emerging in Houston and across Texas. Roughly 169,000 customers across the state still don’t have power as of 7:40 a.m. CDT today (Friday, Sept. 1, 2017), but that figure is down dramatically from a high of more than 300,000 customer outages earlier this week, according to Power Outage Tracker, a tool from Data Fusion Solutions.

Within Texas and Louisiana areas that were flooded, roughly 96.2 percent of cell sites are functioning — up from 95.8 percent on Wednesday, Aug. 30. But cable and wireless services are still struggling to recover. Roughly 270,00 subscribers still lacked service as of Thursday, Aug. 31 — up from about 267,000 subscriber outages on August 30, according to the FCC.

Hurricane Harvey Aftermath

The overall recovery will be a marathon, rather than a sprint. Among the factoids to note, according to CNN and The Houston Chronicle:

  • Hurricane Harvey-related wind, rain and flooding damaged or destroyed 100,000 homes.
  • More than than 96,000 people in Texas have been approved for emergency assistance, including financial aid for rent and lost property, FEMA reported.
  • Government leaders are still concerned about potential chemical contamination in some areas of the region.
  • The town of Crosby, Texas, could suffer more explosions related to a Arkema chemical plant that lost power and backup services.
  • The city of Beumont has 135,000 people without water because pumps have failed in the area.
  • Among the 18 Texas counties included in President Donald Trump’s disaster declaration, only 16 percent of the households have flood insurance backed by the National Flood Insurance Program, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts.
  • Locals are worried about potential gasoline shortages across Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. Gas prices could potentially spike 50 cents per gallon in the region and perhaps 40 cents per gallon nationally in the days ahead, according to GasBuddy.

IT Services Industry: Recovery Efforts

Meanwhile, the IT services industry is doing its part to assist recovery efforts.

It’s A Marathon (Not a Sprint)

At some point in the next few days and weeks, the media cameras will gradually pull away from Houston and the surrounding areas. Life for many folks will go on. But I’d caution readers who think the recovery will be a sprint rather than a marathon.

In my own experience here on Long Island, I witnessed Hurricane Sandy’s destructive forces in 2012. Fast forward five years to present day, and plenty of folks here on Long Island are still battling government agencies and bureaucracy to rebuild their homes and businesses.

Apply that lesson to Texas and Louisiana. Support the marathon recovery efforts.

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