What price Harvey? Financial damage of tropical storm in Houston could exceed previous disasters warns Coventry expert

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Friday 01 September 2017

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The economic cost of Hurricane Harvey could spiral out of control without proper and speedy contingency planning warns an expert in crisis management at Coventry University.

Wayne Harrop, a specialist in business continuity planning, believes preliminary damages, which are currently estimated between $40 and $50 billion, could exceed $100 billion unless the authorities quickly co-ordinate a comprehensive business recovery plan.

Wayne’s views are shared by weather forecasting firm AccuWeather who have predicted that Harvey could cost the US economy up to $190 billion - more than Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy combined.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott also believes the state will need "far in excess" of $125 billion in federal relief dollars while Congress woman Sheila Jackson Lee, who represents Houston, recently called for a record-breaking $150 billion aid package on CNN. 

Wayne said: 

“Whilst the forecasting of catastrophic costs is not always easy – factors such as the size of the local economy, levels and types of insurance cover, property values and average personal income levels can all have an impact - an organised response may make a big difference to final losses.


Business Continuity Plans will be essential in terms of maintaining continuity of goods and supporting the inflow of recovery supplies and operations. Time is of the essence as storm damaged properties accumulate damage if untreated and are vulnerable to looting. Having a business recovery plan or domestic resilience plan will offset losses and speed the rate of recovery.


As the White House prepares a request to Congress for an initial $5.9 billion package in Harvey recovery aid, Wayne believes that the speed of the government’s response will have a major impact on costs and he also warned of the political ramifications if their efforts appear disjointed."

He said:


“Everything is contingent upon how quickly the government reacts to this crisis. The response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was largely disorganised and haphazard, which not only added to the total bill but also caused significant reputational damage to President Bush and his administration."


But Wayne has been encouraged by the response of the local community to the disaster and is mindful of its ‘unseen’ effects on the final bill.


“One of the biggest un-costed factors in community recovery is “community bond” or “trust”– where local people or volunteer groups will selflessly support each other in times of need, and this is very evident in this case” he added.


“I know from friends and colleagues who are over there that there are many examples of locals providing rescue of people and goods via boats, offering essential supplies, or opening their homes to those made homeless.”




Wayne Harrop is available for further comment. For information please contact Mark Farnan, press officer, Coventry University on +44 (0)24 7765 8245 or mark.farnan@coventry.ac.uk.