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Hurricane Harvey Updates

Posted by Harriete Lugue | September 1, 2017

The rain has stopped in Houston, Texas, but the traumatic conditions left by Tropical Storm Harvey have not yet cleared. As of Thursday, August 30, the number of people killed by this catastrophic event has already reached to at least 35 people, 17 people were missing while more than 32,000 people sought refuge in Texas shelters.

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Tropical Storm Harvey lashed Houston, Texas — America's fourth largest city — and has proven to be extremely traumatic to tens of thousands of people and businesses. Harvey downgraded to a tropical depression on Wednesday night, August 29 but heavy rains and life-threatening flash floods are expected to continue in and around Houston, Beaumont/Port Arthur, eastward into southwest Louisiana for the rest of the week.

According to Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long, the disaster is going to be a landmark event as the recovery from it is expected to take years. Other experts take to a more optimistic view, opining that the region may experience a bump in growth from rebuilding.

Here’s What You Need To Know:

EFFECTS

  • Tropical Storm Harvey has forced UPS, FedEx and the United States Postal Service to cease delivery to major swaths of Texas and Louisiana, posing disruptions in the medical, food and packaging industries.
  • This has alerted shipping lines and prompted some to entertain rerouting cargo to New Orleans and Alabama, and even as far away as the Bahamas and Mexico. Another option being explored is for carriers to unload cargo at other ports in order to take in lighter loads upon entering Houston. Authorities still warn that it could be challenging to move inland as railroads and highways are still flooded.
  • The George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas reopened and resumed limited flight operations on Wednesday, August 30 at around 16:00 local time (21:00 UTC). Full services are expected to return by Saturday, September 2. Floodwaters have also begun to recede in the city, though many roads are still impassable.
  • Operations remain suspended at the Port of Beaumont, located at 1225 Main Street, Beaumont, Texas on Wednesday, August 30. According to reports, there is no vessel movement and there are no ships in the channel. Further details remain unavailable. The Port of Beaumont is an international public seaport and the fourth busiest port in the United States.
  • Amazon had to temporarily closed its Houston-area facilities and advised many local customers to expect  delays in packages until the floods subside.
  • The mayor of Houston issued a 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. curfew due to reports of looting, armed robberies and people impersonating police officers.
  • All residents and workers within 2.4 km of an Arkema plant located at 18000 Crosby Eastgate Road, Crosby, Harris County, Texas, USA were evacuated on Tuesday, August 29, as a precautionary measure on a possible explosion risk. According to Arkema officials, the potential for a chemical reaction leading to a fire or explosion due to high water is highly likely.

FORECASTS

  • Goods made with plastics based on petrochemicals such as ethylene and propylene could face sporadic supply chain disruptions and retail price increases in the coming weeks, PetroChem Wire executive editor Kathy Hall said.
  • Around 300,000 to 500,000 cars and trucks could be lost due to the flooding, according to Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for Cox Automotive
  • Cox Automotive estimates that as much as 20,000 to 40,000 new-vehicle sales could be delayed as a result of the storm.
  • AIR Worldwide, a risk modeling company, estimated Monday that insured losses from just the winds and storm surge could reach more than US $2.3B.
  • CoreLogic estimated that Tropical Storm Harvey could cause as much as US $40B total in damage. The company further estimates that if the storm remains a Category 2, the damages could be mitigated, but would still reach nearly US $17B.
  • Jim Blackburn, co-director severe storm center at Rice University, said that if the Texas Gulf Coast sustains Katrina-like damage it would likely devastate the entire US economy.

RELIEF EFFORTS

  • City officials were preparing to temporarily house some 19,000 people, with thousands more expected to flee the area as the flooding entered its fourth day and authorities found themselves running out of space in cramped shelters.
  • Amazon and Apple announced that they will each donate US $1M directly to the American Red Cross Hurricane Harvey Relief.
  • The Home Depot Foundation said it will donate US $1M to several nonprofit partners including the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Convoy of Hope, Operation Blessing and Team Rubicon to support both short-term relief and rebuilding needs.
  • Lowe’s announced it will contribute US $500K to American Red Cross Disaster Relief, and said that they will allow customers make in-store donations to the American Red Cross at its Texas locations.
  • The PepsiCo Foundation has granted US $1M to the American Red Cross. The company also said it is providing supplies, such as Aquafina bottled water, to communities affected by Tropical Storm Harvey.
  • Starbucks has donated US $250K to American Red Cross Hurricane Harvey Relief.
  • United committed to provide up to 3 million bonus miles to its MileagePlus members who donate to Airlink, the American Red Cross, Americares, or Operation USA and will match the first $100,000 raised.
  • The Walmart Foundation has made a commitment to contribute least US $1M toward relief efforts through cash and product donations to organizations like the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and Convoy of Hope.
  • The Western Union Foundation has made a US $30K donation to the American Red Cross. It will also provide zero-fee money transfers to Texas from any locations in the United States.
  • Verizon has pledged US $10M to Harvey relief efforts. The company said it is working with local and state government officials to identify four nonprofit agencies.
  • Walgreens has committed US $200K to the American Red Cross, and the company will enable customers to donate at its stores. Walgreens is also donating food items, first aid and medical equipment to the American Red Cross' emergency shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. The company is partnering with United Airlines to transport items from Chicago to Houston.
  • The Kroger Foundation has committed US $100K to the Houston Food Bank.
  • HCA Healthcare will donate US $1M to the American Red Cross. It will also match up to $1 million in employee donations to the company's employee assistance nonprofit organization.
  • The Bank of America Charitable Foundation has made a US $1M commitment to Harvey relief. The foundation will initially give US $250K to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund and will allocate the rest later once long-term recovery needs are identified.
  • AT&T is donating US $350K0 in aid. Of that amount, it will donate US $100K to the Greater Houston Community Fund, US $100K to the American Red Cross Hurricane Harvey Fund and US $50K  to the Coastal Bend Community Foundation in South Texas. The company's foundation will also match employee donations up to US $50K each to the AT&T Employee Disaster Relief Fund and Team Rubicon.
  • The Coca-Cola Foundation has pledged US $1M to the American Red Cross.
  • Google will match up to US $1M in donations made to the American Red Cross. Google has already committed US $750K to relief efforts through company and employee donations. In total, the company is pledging US $2M to relief efforts.
  • Bayer is committing US $200K to relief efforts. It will send half the amount to the American Red Cross and the other half to Direct Relief. The company is also working with its nonprofit partners to determine needs for product donations.
  • Facebook will match up to US $1M raised on the social media site for the Center for Disaster Philanthropy Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund.
  • The Dow Chemical Company Foundation has pledged $US $1M to relief efforts. It will donate US $100K to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, US $100K to Team Rubicon and US $200K to other local nonprofit organizations. The foundation will match employee and retiree donations up to US $100K. It will use the remaining US $500K to help long-term rebuilding efforts.
  • Exxon Mobil Corporation will give the United Way of Greater Houston US $500K in addition to the US $500K it gave the American Red Cross.
  • The Caterpillar Foundation is giving US $300K  to the American Red Cross. The company has started sending power generation equipment from other parts of the country and begun staging equipment in anticipation of clean-up efforts, CEO Jim Umpleby said in a statement.
  • Cheniere will donate US $1M to the American Red Cross.
  • JPMorgan Chase will donate US $1M to the American Red Cross and other organizations who are working to help those affected.
  • Target will donate $500,000, which will be distributed to the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and Team Rubicon.
  • The UPS Foundation has pledged more than $1 million to organizations including the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.

OPERATIONAL BEST PRACTICES

Predicting the outcomes of Tropical Storm Harvey is both devastating and difficult. Times like these, companies likely know that an accurate weather device has yet modelled to ascertain potential risk one phenomenon poses. The reality is, risk is always here. It may be in a form of a deadly storm, an earthquake or an explosion. Risk does not disappear — but it can be mitigated and prepared for.

Namely, companies should put processes in place that allow them to be more flexible in responding to major disasters. Calculating a realistic and immediate assessment of damage is the priority while enforcing an action plan to mitigate further adverse repercussions is next. A company’s ability to rapidly ascertain which part of its supply chain has been seriously impacted is vitally important. This will enable the company to determine priorities, new routes, and alternative suppliers in a state of emergency, and therefore, heightened competition.

In order to prepare for price surges, for example, shippers, carriers, and supply chain managers should look for ways to cut costs and consolidate shipments ASAP. Furthermore, besides the effect on gas prices, many shipments may have been lost over the course of the week’s devastation. For companies in that area, it may take a few weeks to account for losses — so this is the time to keep your ear to the ground and increase customer support.