Extreme Weather Events and the Performance of Critical Utility Infrastructures: A Case Study of Hurricane Harvey
Extreme weather events have significant economic and social impacts, disrupting essential public services like electricity, phone communication, and transportation. This study seeks to understand the performance and resilience of critical infrastructure systems in Houston, Texas, using Hurricane Harvey (2017) as a case study. We surveyed 500 Houston Metropolitan Statistical Area residents after Hurricane Harvey's landfall about disruption experience in electricity, water, phone/cellphone, internet, public transportation, workplace, and grocery stores. Our household survey data revealed the proportion and duration of disruption in each system. Approximately 70% of respondents reported experiencing electricity outages, while half (51%) had no access to water for up to six days. Two-thirds of surveyed households lacked internet access, and 50% had their phone services disconnected. Additionally, around 71% of respondents were unable to commute to work, and 73% were unable to purchase groceries for their families during this period. We incorporated the household survey responses into the Dynamic Inoperability Input-Output Model (DIIM) to estimate inoperability and economic losses across interconnected sectors. The projected economic loss was estimated to be in the range of $6.7- $9.7 billion when sensitivity analysis is performed with respect to the number of working days. Understanding the resilience of each sector and the inherent interdependencies among them can provide beneficial insight to policymakers for disaster risk management, notably preparedness and recovery planning for future events.