Extreme Weather Events and Critical Infrastructure Resilience: Lessons from Hurricane Irma in Florida
Severe weather events can have profound economic implications, disrupting vital public services such as electricity, communication, and transportation. This study examines the functionality and resilience of critical infrastructure systems within 14 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in Florida, specifically focusing on Hurricane Irma (2017). Following Hurricane Irma, a survey was given to 547 Florida residents to learn about their firsthand experiences with service disruptions. These sectors included disruptions in electricity, water, phone, internet, transportation, employment, and grocery access. Analysis of the survey data illuminated the extent and duration of disruptions within each system. Noteworthy findings include 73% of respondents experiencing electricity outages, 35% enduring up to two days without water access, 63% facing internet disruptions, and 39% encountering issues with phone services. Additionally, 51% struggled with commuting to work, and 55% could not purchase groceries for their families during the impacted period. The household survey responses were integrated into the Dynamic Inoperability Input-Output Model (DIIM). It assessed inoperability and economic losses across 71 interconnected Florida industries reliant on seven infrastructure systems. Simulated scenarios using the DIIM estimated the projected economic loss to range from $2.97 to $4.30 billion. The estimate considers the number of affected working days. This research underscores the importance of understanding specific sector resilience and acknowledging their inherent connections. Such insights offer invaluable guidance to policymakers involved in disaster risk management, especially in anticipating and formulating recovery strategies for future events. By recognizing the vulnerabilities of diverse infrastructure systems, authorities can better prepare for and mitigate the economic impact of extreme weather events. This identification ultimately enhances the overall resilience of communities.