5 years after Hurricane Harvey, some Houstonians are still recovering, UH report says

Courtney Carpenter Image
Friday, August 26, 2022
5 years after Harvey, some Houstonians still struggling, report says
Some good news found in the report is 81.6% of survey respondents affected by Hurricane Harvey in the Greater Houston area have completely or mostly recovered from the storm.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Five years after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, ABC13 is learning more about Houstonians' preparedness and resiliency.

Houstonians proved themselves to be a "particularly resilient group of individuals," according to a survey released on Thursday by the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs.

Just three months after the storm, the University of Houston started looking closely at how Hurricane Harvey affected the Greater Houston area, and they've continued to study its impacts.

In the study, UH took a deep dive into five years of data that measures how Houstonians coped with the devastation, at what speed recovery happened for some people, and to what extent it hasn't happened for others.

"This new report provides an overall look at Harvey flood damage and demonstrates how much time rebuilding takes after a calamity of such large magnitude. It also shows the effects of a rise in momentum as support programs expanded in reach, bringing resources to more people," said Pablo M. Pinto, director of the UH Hobby School's Center for Public Policy and member of the research team responsible for the study.

According to the report, 81.6% of survey respondents affected by Hurricane Harvey in the Greater Houston area have completely or mostly recovered from the storm's effects.

"The survey points out the communities still struggling after Harvey have also been the populations hit hardest over the past five years by other weather emergencies, including extreme cold, unusual heat, and other flooding," said Maria Paula Perez Arguelles, a Hobby School research associate who participated in the analysis of the survey results.

"Although the massive scale of the Harvey flood makes it an outlier, extreme weather events are happening more frequently. It's critical for Houston, and all of our communities, to understand how effective recovery can be supported," added Savannah Sipole, a research associate at the Hobby School.

"Recognizing the costly damage of natural disasters like Harvey, area residents overwhelmingly support policies to mitigate the effects of future severe weather events and aid in recovery," said Agustín Vallejo, a postdoctoral fellow at the Hobby School and member of the research team.

Policies, such as constructing a reservoir and enforcing more restrictions on building in flood plains, received around 90% support from respondents across multiple waves of surveys, the report said.

Flood insurance was a big factor. About a third of those who are completely or mostly recovered had flood insurance, the report said.

Among those who reported recovering little or not at all, only 18.5% had flood insurance, the report said.

Dr. Pinto said his team is working on an online dashboard right now, something we will all be able to use that shows different areas around our city and the vulnerability risk and resiliency factors. He says they are hoping to get that up and running this fall.

SEE ALSO: "Completely devastated": Kingwood residents look back 5 years after Hurricane Harvey made landfall

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