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Handling hurricanes


As the concrete jungle on the southern border of America became submerged in flood waters last month, the nation stopped and stared. Numerous charitable efforts have reeled in help from far and wide to rebuild America’s fourth largest city and bandage the broken lives of thousands of victims. The aftermath of Harvey leaves countless areas of Houston in need of restoration even weeks after the storm hit. Attention and relief efforts are now also directed toward the victims of Hurricane Irma as it develops and sweeps areas on and surrounding the East Coast, Cuba and Caribbeans.

With the metropolis currently in damage-control mode, surrounding U.S. regions that rely heavily on Houston’s oil and gas industry are also guaranteed to suffer a ripple of after effects. According to GasBuddy, gas prices rose to a national average of $2.66 on Sept. 5 – the highest they’ve been in two years. According to the Associated Press, one Shell station in downtown-Dallas had ratcheted up its gas prices to a high of $3.97. However, energy experts such as Bruce Bullock don’t anticipate that Hurricane Irma will affect gas prices any further.

Harvey also took a toll on aspects such as car sales and increased jobless claims. With nearly half a million cars tainted with water damage, car sales are expected to be affected negatively in the coming months. Also due to water damage in cars, homes, and roads, many people could not work and lost weeks of pay in the process.

Along with oil and gas, Houston is a huge holder of Superfund sites. In the Houston metro-area alone, there are more than a dozen sites, filled with toxic waste that has accumulated over several decades. The sites are still considered to be one of America’s most intensely contaminated places by the Environmental Protection Agency. With 13 out of 41 Superfund sites densely flooded by the hurricane, many residents were concerned with the potential threat this could have on their community, human health and wildlife. The EPA has been absent from the scene, but announced that they will inspect the sites as soon as flooding recedes.

Even 500 miles away, this issue hits close to home for many ORU students and Tulsa residents. On Sept. 7, ORU Student Counseling Services hosted a meeting for students affected by Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma.

“I wish people understood how real it is,” said one of the students. “It’s a huge thing that’s happening to such a personal part of my life. It’s where I’ve always lived and now it’s altered and I’ve been away from it the whole time.”

With 436,000 households having already applied for FEMA aid and Hurricane Irma in the works, the Senate has approved more than $15 billion in a disaster aid deal. As a result, the debt ceiling was also raised to side-step another government shutdown.