At its peak in late August and early September, Hurricane Harvey was a Category 4 hurricane moving at 130 miles per hour, leaving fatalities and untold economic losses in its wake. Over one week, the hurricane dumped approximately 33 trillion gallons of rain on Texas and Louisiana and led to at least 82 deaths in the United States.
According to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide, Harvey’s rainfall alone caused an estimated $65 billion to $75 billion in property damage. Insured losses from the wind, flood and storm surge are expected to surpass $10 billion. Neither estimate factors in the additional losses covered under the National Flood Insurance Program.
In Crosby, Texas, the historic flooding had a particularly dramatic impact, leading to several explosions and fires at the Arkema Inc. chemical plant on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. At least 21 of the emergency responders called to fight the fires and evacuate plant employees were reportedly injured and some have filed suit against Arkema for exposure to “unspecified toxic fumes.” Although the full scope of its environmental and economic impact remains to be determined, this plant disaster already offers valuable lessons in disaster preparedness and emergency response.