Getting up after Hurricane “Harvey”

minimalistic house with architectural structure

Who could ever forget the devastating hurricane that wreaked havoc all over Texas in 2017? This hurricane is named Harvey. This powerful hurricane is tied with 2005’s Hurricane Katrina and is the costliest tropical cyclone on record, inflicting $125 billion in damage particularly from catastrophic rainfall-triggered flooding in the Houston metropolitan area and Southeast Texas. It was the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Wilma in 2005, ending a record 12-year span in which no hurricanes made landfall at the intensity of a major hurricane throughout the country.

History of “Harvey” in Meteorology

This hurricane originated from a westward-moving tropical wave that emerged from Africa over the eastern Atlantic Ocean on August 12, 2017. Maintaining its brisk westward motion, the system strengthened slightly and became a tropical storm later that day, at which it was given the name Harvey. With maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, Harvey made landfalls in Barbados and St. Vincent on August 18 before entering the Caribbean Sea. After becoming a hurricane on August 24, Harvey continued to quickly strengthen over the next day, ultimately reaching peak intensity as a Category 4 hurricane.

Aftermath of the Hurricane

Approximately 32,000 people were displaced in shelters across the state by August 31. Analysts estimated the total economic cost of the storm at $81 billion to $108 billion or more. Most of the economic losses are damage to homes and commercial property.

Texas is building back better after Harvey

The default response after a major disaster is often to rebuild as quickly as possible. This typically means replicating what existed before the storm. Communities were urged to consider short and long-term health impacts of their recovery decisions, known as “health in all policies”, approach to recover. This approach recognizes that health is connected to many other issues, including transportation, social networks and housing. By thinking about the health impacts of recovery strategies, municipal leaders can rebuild in a way that promotes stronger and more resilient communities.

The idea of incorporating health in all policies may sound sensible but putting it into action after a hurricane is easier said than done. Communities are under political and social pressure to recover quickly and health may not be at the top of their priorities. Advance planning for recovery is important and involving people who understand challenges to community health and well-being is essential. Local health departments, as well as community and faith-based organization are often connected to at-risk populations. Involving these organizations in recovery planning and implementation can inform an approach that promotes community health and well-being.

Many areas are still recovering after this powerful hurricane that devastated this area. What is important is they know how to pick themselves up after that strong weather disturbance. We all know that we can’t control the weather. Science can only estimate the strength and all we can do is to prepare. That’s why it is important to have an emergency plan ahead to avoid severe damage as possible.