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After The Storms: The Long-Term Effects of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria

Aside from property and infrastructure damage, this season’s hurricanes are leaving long-lasting environmental and health nightmares in their wakes.

After The Storms: The Long-Term Effects of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria
HAYALES DE COAMO, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 24: Karlian Mercado, 7, Carmen Maldonado, Carlos Flores and Jose Flores (L-R) stand on what remains of their home after it was blown away by Hurricane Maria as it passed through the area on September 24, 2017 in Hayales de Coamo, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

As the skies clear above the devastation left by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and the long road to recovery begins, many are concerned about other consequences from the storms beyond property and infrastructure damage. Harvey was expected to curtail U.S. oil production for several weeks, affecting every aspect of the oil industry down to the pump at gas stations throughout the country. Public health and environmental contamination are other major concerns, as well as such destructive storms becoming the norm due to climate change.

Harvey’s excessive rainfall along the Gulf of Mexico coastline exposed a vulnerability of the energy industry regarding the refineries and chemical production in the area, according to Michael E. Webber, deputy director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas in Austin: “Over the long term, the energy sector will have to consider the costs of additional hardening of the infrastructure on the Gulf Coast versus moving to a different location like the Eastern Seaboard.”

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