Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hurricane Ike's Aftermath

I've been mainly focused on the Galveston area because that is where I have the most intimate knowledge - we've spent time there regularly over the last 30 years But Hurricane Ike hit far more than just Galveston. There was storm surge as far south as Corpus Christi and as far east as Louisiana. The storm surge around Galveston Bay did a lot of damage. In the news this morning are complaints because there is still no electricity after 5 days in a community in Ohio!

Hurricane Ike is going to have some long term economic impact on the Gulf Coast. Half of Galveston's tax base was wiped out in this storm. Because most of the damage was caused by the storm surge, much of the damage will not be insured. Windstorm policies do not cover damage from the storm surge and flooding. Many property owners who were closest to the beach will have other issues. Depending upon how much sand is redeposited over the next 12 months, many land owners will lose their land as well without compensation because of the 1959 Texas Open Beaches Act.

It may be easy to say things like: They should not build next to the ocean anyway . . . they're rich, they'll rebuild anyway . . .
The reality is that these are resources that are permanently lost. Economic wealth provides jobs, spends money that support local small business companies. I suspect that more mortgages that will not be repaid adding to another national crisis.

In the affected coastal communities, each day that businesses must stay closed removes dollars from the economy.

Farm and grazing land near the coast will be impacted in addition to the fishing and shrimp industry.

The Dillards at the Mall of the Mainland is already reporting that it will not reopen that store which sustained millions of dollars of uninsured damage.

Far too many people will have lost everything they own. It may take months before their jobs are restored or before their business can reopen. I hope and pray that in spite of the national financial crisis, that we as a nation will find ways to support these people until they can get on their feet again.

I truly believe that humans are resilient. I do believe that these coastal communities will rebuild. But this is a blow that will take years to recover from.

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