Hurricane Harvey caused major devastation in Texas in September of 2017. The natural disaster destroyed buildings and infrastructure while oil refineries and pump systems had to be shut down. 1 Repairing and rebuilding damaged structures can take months, and plenty of skilled trade workers working to get this done.
Oil and Gas
The energy sector in Texas was heavily impacted by Hurricane Harvey as oil and gas production sites had to be closed. The ensuing losses aren’t just a result of halting production, but also of being unable to transport gasoline. This can further impede recovery efforts, as fuel is needed to distribute aid and power generators. While the industry is already on its path to recovery, some damage may take a while until detected. 2 Welders will be needed to restore and reconstruct parts that were wrecked by the hurricane. Workers with welding training may also be hired for “hurricane-proofing,” like strengthening the quality of welded structures. Such tasks are becoming increasingly important as the energy sector ventures into more remote areas where extraction infrastructure is exposed to harsh weather conditions. 3
Right after Hurricane Harvey hit, about 280,000 Texas residents were without power. Restoring power to these households proved extremely difficult due to high winds, heavy rain, and massive flooding. As a result, thousands of workers were brought in from other parts of the country to help reinstate electricity. 4 Working on electrical systems after a hurricane requires technicians with electrical training who are licensed, as they must take special safety precautions. Wiring, motors, and other electrical parts must be carefully examined, cleaned, and tested before turning them on again. If certain devices have been underwater, like circuit interrupters or circuit breakers, electricians need to be the ones to replace them. 5
The sector most in need of skilled workers is most likely construction. Labor shortages in Texas were already quite severe prior to Hurricane Harvey due to the state’s rapid population and job growth. 6 A survey conducted by the National Association of Homebuilders found that more than half of builders in Texas reported having difficulty finding plumbers and electricians. Associated General Contractors of America also reported that 70 percent of general contractors who participated in their survey had a hard time filling skilled labor positions. This immense skilled labor gap can significantly delay the repairing and rebuilding of homes, buildings, roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. 7
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Hurricane Harvey sadly wasn’t the only big natural disaster that has hit the U.S. in 2017. Hurricanes Irma and Maria also caused major devastation in Florida and Puerto Rico, respectively. The latter is in especially dire conditions, with electrical infrastructure expected to remain shattered for some time. Skilled labor workers, such as welders, electricians, and plumbers, from across the U.S. can help these regions recover more quickly in the months and years to come.
1 – https://www.cbsnews.com/news/hurricane-harveys-impact-on-us-economy-energy-sector-stocks/
2 – https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/08/business/energy-environment/texas-energy-industry.html
3 – http://weldingsource.org/aftermath-hurricanes-harvey-irma-welders-need-know/
4 – https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/28/texas-utilities-struggle-to-restore-power-as-harvey-hampers-progress.html
5 – http://www.southernelectrical.com/hurricane-harvey/
6 – http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2017/08/28/houston_might_not_have_enough_construction_workers_to_rebuild_after_harvey.html
7 – https://www.cbsnews.com/news/hurricane-harvey-houston-workers-to-rebuild/