Tropical Storm Harvey shuts down Houston and its workforce

Photo- Texas National Guard

The rains of Tropical Storm Harvey continue to pelt Houston and southeast Texas, as torrential floods have entrapped and shut down a city counting 7 million residents, the fourth-largest metro area in the U.S.

The historic weather event is stretching into a multi-day catastrophe with record flooding. It will take more sleepless hours for its residents and first-responders to endure as the storm meanders slowly through the region. Officials say that nine people have been killed as a result of Harvey and they expect more loss of life. The storm damage estimates are reaching in the tens of billions of dollars and could surpass Hurricane Katrina in 2005 as the costliest storm in U.S. history.

Though economists have an optimistic outlook for Houston’s recovery, an immediate concern must be paid to its workforce. Months could go by before workers see their next paycheck. The Texas Workforce Commission has shut down offices in 54 counties through Tuesday, but it has updated its website with a link for workers to apply for unemployment benefits.

Reuters reports that millions of dollars will go back into the local economy as the city rebuilds, but there is a worry that there may not be enough construction workers, which could prolong the recovery. Texas Gov. Greg Abbot said that it could take years for the region to deal with the storm’s aftermath.

The petrochemical industry, centered in Houston and spread throughout surrounding counties, is expected to rebound quickly. However, 40 percent of small businesses will not survive an event like Harvey, Joint Task Force Katrina Commander Russel Honore told Fox Business on Monday.

Over at Inc., you can read about how local businesses are dealing with the immediate impact of Harvey, as companies are mounting efforts to rescue their own employees.

But as much as Harvey is affecting Houston, attention is now being directed at its impact on Louisiana. ABC News reports that New Orleans, 12 years removed from Katrina, is already experiencing flooding as nine inches of rain have fallen in the state, with more on the way. Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday that the worst may yet to come for his state as the storm moves north.

The worst may yet to come for the Gulf region, but its people banded together after Katrina as Houston took in many displaced Louisiana residents. Unfortunately, many of these people are reliving the same tragedy. The people of Texas and Louisiana have shown incredible resiliency before and are showing it again.

To find out more on how you can help the victims of Harvey, click here.

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