Post-Harvey and Irma: Assessing the Damage
Now that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have passed, the affected region is in the midst of assessing the damages, and the impacts to its businesses and economy in the short and long term.
Returning to Power
In the immediate aftermath of Irma, millions were left without power. While some large facilities – such as hospitals – are able to keep operational with generators and water wells, many other businesses are struggling to get back to work in the dark. Where possible, employees have been telecommuting.
As DRI President and CEO Chloe Demrovsky noted in a recent interview by the Associated Press companies whose workers can telecommute have a better chance of survival after a major disaster.
“For other types of businesses, it’s going to be a lot harder,” she said. “They have to ask, how long can we keep our doors shuttered?”
Paying workers has become a major obstacle for employers as they re-open, particularly accessing payments without power. Hourly employees are hardest hit, as they may have to go without pay until the situation is resolved.
Florida’s Economic Impact
Among the industries most hard hit by Irma were food services, amusement parks, and retailers.
Investment firm UBS identified 90 companies who conduct more than 10% of their business in the region, many of which are restaurant chains with a significant presence in the South, including Sonic, Dairy Queen, and Cracker Barrel – which will have to close many of its locations as damage is assessed.
The outlook for the produce industry is “grim,” according to Produce Retailer. Based on grower reports, citrus crop loss may be in the 50% to 70% range in some areas. Florida produces some 70% of the citrus in the U.S., a $9 billion annual impact on the state’s economy. Other harvest losses could set growers back at least a month.
While amusement parks remained physically unscathed, Orlando area attractions are losing millions of dollars in tourist revenues, as supporting hotels and restaurants struggle to regain power, transit access, and supply deliveries. Roughly 100 sites shut down ahead of the storm, including Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, and DisneyWorld, which shut down only four other times in its 46-year history.
Supply Chain Slowdown
Supply chains are expected to be disrupted across the board, which could lead to delays in delivery of holiday inventories for some retailers, according to the Institute for Supply Management.
Among the findings from a survey about the economic impacts of Hurricane Harvey:
DRI will continue tracking the effects of the hurricanes on businesses and their recovery efforts. If you are a resilience professional working in the affected regions, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.