• Stephen Jordan

Keeping Track of Forgotten Disasters



Right now, the 2021 December Tornado Storm that affected Kentucky and a swath of states from Arkansas to Ohio is fading from view. Experts say that most disasters linger in the public consciousness for about ten weeks, even though the recoveries can take years. Communities do not instantly recover when fires burn their houses down to the foundations, tornados turn them into match sticks, or hurricanes and floods quite literally submerge them under water.


So, on that note, ISD is keeping track of some locally painful billion-dollar disasters that do not ordinarily get much attention any more. These include:

  • 2021 Hurricane Ida

  • 2021 Texas Deep Freeze

  • 2020 Haiti Earthquake

  • Iowa-Nebraska Floods

  • Camp Fire

  • Hurricane Maria

  • Hurricane Irma

  • Hurricane Harvey

ISD will be providing more periodic updates in the future.


Hurricane Ida (2021)

  • AP News with frequent updates about recovery: https://apnews.com/hub/hurricane-ida

  • “The Army Corps of Engineers will be getting $2.6 billion for Louisiana under the infrastructure and supplemental disaster acts”

  • 1/15/22: “A little over five months after Hurricane Ida devastated Grand Isle, Louisiana’s barrier island, electricity is fully up and running, the mayor’s office said”

  • 1/10/22: “More than four months after Hurricane Ida destroyed or did major damage to their houses, some Louisiana residents are just now moving from tent camps to government-supplied mobile homes and RV trailers… As of Monday, Steele said, the state has deployed 3,101 RV trailers across south Louisiana, including 1,272 in Terrebonne Parish and 580 in Lafourche Parish. Nearly 7,500 people from more than 2,600 households are living in them, he said”

  • 12/21/21: “A three-judge panel of Louisiana’s 5th Circuit Court of Appeal has ordered a St. John the Baptist Parish judge to allow the seizure of a tract of private land to build portions of the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane Levee.”


MS River Flooding (2019)

Hamburg, Iowa hoping to build third levee to protect from future floods

Missouri completed levee restoration


Hurricane Michael (2018)


Camp Fire (2018) - Paradise, California:

Population growing rapidly, with plenty of recovery left


Hurricane Irma (2017)


Hurricane Maria (2017) - Puerto Rico

Island created disaster response plan - warehouses with provisions placed around island; satellite phones and radios to stay in contact through disaster

$20 billion had been allocated by Congress to rebuild homes and infrastructure, but very little had been disbursed

$13 billion that had been allocated to rebuild electrical grid and education system in 2018 finally made available to Puerto Rico

Study finds chronic disease and their associated risk factors increased in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

Less than 3% of funds allocated for reconstruction have been disbursed so far

  • Puerto Rico has had many changes in leadership since:

Ricardo Rosselló, the governor when Maria hit, resigned in 2019 after multiple scandals, including mismanagement of recovery efforts

Wanda Vázquez was appointed to governorship because she was the island’s justice secretary at the time

Pedro Pierluisi won the 2020 election and took governorship in January 2021


Hurricane Harvey (2017)

  • $1.95 billion meant for flood mitigation in Texas halted by HUD

Official Audit Findings: https://www.hudoig.gov/sites/default/files/2021-06/2021-FW-1001.pdf

Local perspectives: https://www.fox26houston.com/news/blame-game-over-who-dropped-the-ball-with-hurricane-harvey-relief-funds-continues

https://www.fox26houston.com/news/houstons-management-of-harvey-relief-funds-slammed-by-hud-audit

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