Thousands of Houstonians are staying in makeshift shelters, including one holding up to 10,000 displaced residents at the city’s George R. Brown (GRB) Convention Center in downtown Houston.
The GRB is the city’s largest convention center and hosts events ranging from energy industry conferences, to bridal shows to comic book conventions, but, despite its uncommon occupation, in a recent address, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner stated Houston was “open for business.”
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This encouraging news comes despite evidence the lingering, now-moldy effects of Hurricane Harvey, which affected a large part of the city:
“Anyone who was planning on a conference or a convention or a sporting event or a concert coming to this city, you can still come,” Turner said in an interview with CBS. “We can do multiple things at the same time.”
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However, among other problems, one major problem is for those who were not affected or evacuated due to floods and may not hold jobs to which they can return.
Additionally, preliminary estimates place the economic damages to the area at nearly $200 billion, and several large oil refineries remain closed since the storm.
These refineries process up to 1 million barrels of crude oil on a given day, closures of which are prompting scares and spikes in gasoline prices.
Another issue prospectively hampering Houston’s return to normal is the sheer number of flood-damaged vehicles; some reports estimate between 500,000 and 1 million vehicles were damaged or destroyed due to flood waters.
Since 94 percent of Houstonians own at least one vehicle, and the city lacks an extensive public transportation system viable for those now without a car, workers who were lucky enough to maintain employment despite the flooding may face big problems getting to their jobs.
Once again speaking adversely to Mayor Turner, this time going against his confidence in the city’s progress, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called for a refocus in Houston’s rebuilding.
At the nation’s Official Day of Prayer for the hurricane victims, Abbott addressed parishoners at the Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin:
“(A) part of our focus must be on rebuilding in a way that will prevent a disaster like this from happening again.”
This is a developing story.
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