Infrastructure Damage After Hurricanes and Major Storms

Roads underwater - Infrastructure damage

Hurricanes and other major storms can devastate cities and entire regions. Residents are often forced from their homes, property is damaged beyond repair — and storms affect infrastructure, too.

Think about a storm surge that sweeps over land. It obviously makes an impact on roadways, but it also permeates the many systems that keep our water running and our electricity powered up. Here’s a look at the effects of storm damage on our cities’ infrastructure, as well as the significant cost related to repairing damaged infrastructure.

The Infrastructure That’s Commonly Damaged

Infrastructure damage after a hurricane is widespread and can affect all sorts of commonly-used spaces and systems. But, in general, the cost of hurricane damage is most correlated with damage to the following three infrastructure components:

  1. Roads: Roads are designed to withstand heavy rains and the steady weight of tires carrying vehicles over them. But they are not designed to be fully submerged under water, as they can be in the wake of a storm surge.

    When water fully covers roads and highways, and when it submerges portions of bridges or bridges entirely, that water begins to degrade the integrity of those roads, highways and bridges. That is, they often become unsafe for continued use. Sometimes the damage is apparent — a road that washes away, a sinkhole that appears, a bridge that crumbles. But often the damage is less obvious on the surface, which can create a false sense of safety among those who continue to use them.

  2. Power Supplies: Power failures are a bit more apparent. That is, residents know when the power goes out. In some places that are particularly prone to hurricanes, homes and businesses include backup generators to pick up the slack when water submerges power supplies and cuts off electricity. The danger is the loss of power is often related to a lack of climate control.

    Hurricane season begins in the heart of summer, and a lack of air conditioning in places hit by storms can be life-threatening. That’s one reason why quickly repairing power supplies is a priority in the days after a storm.

  3. Water Lines, Sewer Lines and Plumbing: A lack of clean drinking water can also be a severe problem after storms. A hurricane’s storm surge can damage water and sewer lines, which can sometimes lead to a blending of fresh and wastewater. When wastewater mixes in with fresh water, it poses the threat of disease and other serious effects for those who drink it.

Of course, hurricanes and other major storms can lead to all sorts of other damage to infrastructure. These are just the most prominent issues that crop up in the aftermath of a storm.

How Long Does it Take to Rebuild Infrastructure After a Hurricane?

It’s hard to say how long it takes to recover from a hurricane and how much it will cost to return a city to its previous form. This depends on the extent and location of the damage.

For example, Hurricane Katrina led to widespread damage in the New Orleans area and all along the Gulf Coast. Its devastation came from a storm surge that overwhelmed area levees and flooded portions of the city. Compounding matters was a seemingly slow response from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which drew criticism. It took years for New Orleans to recover, and some would say it still hasn’t fully recovered from Hurricane Katrina.

Flash forward 12 years to Hurricane Harvey and the damage it created in the Houston area. While Hurricane Katrina rebuilding cost about $120 billion, rebuilding after Harvey is expected to require $180 billion in taxpayer investment. Harvey’s damage is different in that it stems from heavy and sustained rainfall after the hurricane made landfall rather than a storm surge. Only time will tell how long it takes Houston to rebuild and how much capital rebuilding will require.

It Starts With the Right Equipment

The cost of hurricane damage can feel overwhelming. But so too can the actual task of making the needed repairs and restoring a city or region to its previous condition. At B-Air©, we offer a suite of water damage restoration equipment and tools that water damage restoration professionals know and trust. When you need quality, dependable water damage restoration equipment for support in repairing infrastructure damage after a hurricane, look no further than equipment from B-Air©.