Left: Due to its wide geographic expanse, Hurricane Ike created a huge storm surge that inflicted major damage on the barrier island of Galveston, Texas.
It was a rough weekend for the Gulf Coast and the United States economy as Hurricane Ike reached
the shores of Texas
early Saturday morning. Ike, a Category
II hurricane, caused havoc in the Houston area, shutting down airports and oil
refineries that play integral roles in our nation’s economy. Ike claimed 100
lives, including 30 Americans, and spurred 2,000 rescue attempts, reinstating
the apprehension of hurricane season for the American people.
As Ike, now a tropical depression, moves north (track
its status on this Weather.com page), the full impact of the storm becomes
apparent. Resources have been pulled
nationwide for residents in 29 Texas counties declared “disaster areas.” Over
7,000 National Guard troops have been mobilized, as well as countless Red Cross
volunteers to staff 20,000 shelter facilities. Over two million Texas residents fled the
area into surrounding states, and the 140,000 who refused to evacuate are living
in water-logged homes. Experts estimate
clean-up efforts will range upwards of 10 billion dollars, which would make Ike
the third-costliest storm in history.
That 10 billion dollars doesn’t account for the extraneous
costs the nation’s economy will endure. Gas-prices have risen overnight because 14 oil refineries are
inoperable. (See how gas prices have fluctuated nationally with this "Gas
Temperature" Map.) Major
Huston airports such as George Bush Intercontinental and Hobby resumed limited
service today, but the total dollar-amount lost through flight-cancellations
and reschedules is still undetermined.
aftershocks of storms like Ike and Katrina are felt nation-wide, U.S. citizens are starting to comprehend the
devastation that countries like Indonesia or China feel when natural disasters hit their countries. We also come to understand how
the concentration of resources in our American landscape (with niche zones such
as Silicon Valley, monoculture farming regions in the Midwest, or oil
refineries in the South) can work to accelerate business and the global
economy, but also are liabilities when hit by forces we can’t control.
How have hurricanes and other natural disasters affected you
or your family? Can you think of ways
that hurricane Ike in particular has affected your life or your pocket?
What do you think should be done to prepare for future
hurricanes that hit the Gulf Coast?
Bethany for My Wonderful World
Images courtesy of National Geographic News.