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.”
After leaving a path of destruction across the Caribbean Islands and Florida, Hurricane Irma downgraded to a tropical storm this morning, though this has done nothing to quell its continuing torrential rain and violent winds in Florida and Georgia. Surprisingly, Puerto Ricans were spared the worst of the storm and are now rallying to aid their neighbors.
Though Puerto Rico expected a head-on collision with Irma at literally the most inopportune time, as the country experiences a crumbling infrastructure and fiscal crisis, they only received a glancing blow compared to other islands and much of southern Florida. Still, Irma left Puerto Rico with at least 12 dead, flattened homes, widespread flooding, and over 1 million without power.
Delta had already announced that it would be retiring their last seven Boeing 747-400s, once called "The Queen of the Skies," by the end of this year. The planes were mainly used for transoceanic flights, then Hurricane Irma, the strongest storm ever recorded in the region, headed for Florida.
To assist in the urgent evacuation effort, Delta is routing one of its jumbo jets from Detroit, a hub for the airline, to Orlando. The flight isn't free, but fares top out at $399. When it returns to Detroit, passengers will be able to fly anywhere the airline flies outside the Hurricane Irma impacted area.
A week after Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston and the surrounding area for years to come, the next big storm is already making its way across the Atlantic.
Hurricane Irma upgraded yesterday evening to a Category 3 with sustained winds near 115 mph, and is heading west at 12 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.