September 5, 2017


By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

For those of us that live in North Dakota, most of us cannot imagine what it must be like for the millions of people in Texas and Louisiana that will be trying to put their lives back together after Hurricane Harvey has devastated that part of the country.
In North Dakota, we may have to deal with the occasional three-day blizzards in the winter that shut down roads and cut off power. Or we may have to deal with the occasional spring flooding that wreaks destruction such as we saw in Grand Forks and Minot. But those snowstorms or floods pale in comparison to what the nation saw with Hurricane Harvey.
Weather forecasters accurately predicted the severity of this Category 4 hurricane as it made ground near Corpus Christi, Texas, with winds in excess of 100 miles per hour and dumping well over 50 inches of rain over a wide swath of the Gulf Coast. The physical damage, with a potential price tag of $190 billion, to the tens of thousands of homes and businesses caused by the flooding by the massive rainfall will go down in history as one of the most costly hurricanes in the nation’s history.
Very few towns along the path of Hurricane Harvey were spared damage. But perhaps the hardest hit was Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city with a population of 2.3 million people.
While damage estimates are still coming in, what is known right now is that 44 people were killed, 93,942 homes in the state of Texas alone were either damaged or destroyed, and 32,000 residents were forced into shelters.
The harsh reality is that this hurricane will forever change all of the communities that were in its paths, just as the floods in Grand Forks and Minot changed those North Dakota cities. People and businesses will relocate because the cost of rebuilding takes too long and is too expensive. The cleanup effort is going to take months, if not years, to complete. Cities will have to rebuild electrical systems that were destroyed, get their water and sewage treatments on line again, and deal with the thousands of people who no longer have a place to live.
The costs of the recovery are going to be staggering.
While some in the country may complain as they see gas prices rise because of the temporary closure of several of the nation’s Gulf Coast refineries due to the hurricane, these costs will be short-lived. The costs being born by those impacted will be very long term.