Experts say winter blast might become most expensive natural disaster in Texas history

Snow rake used on ice dams in Oawlawn IL.
Snow rake used on ice dams in Oawlawn IL.(WFLD/NNS | CBS Newspath)
Updated: Feb. 26, 2021 at 5:50 AM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - There hasn’t been an official estimate on the toll last week’s winter storm had on our state’s economy, but some experts are saying last week’s winter storm could be the most expensive disaster to hit the Lone Star state.

Economists are saying the financial impacts from the freeze that took over Texas last week -- leaving millions in the dark, cold and without water -- could be even more expensive than the damage left behind by Hurricane Harvey. That disaster from four years ago cost roughly $125 billion dollars.

Dr. Harold Doty with the University of Texas at Tyler explains this is because “this storm affected all of Texas. So, it seemed like Harvey got a big area because it hit Corpus through Houston, but this affected everyone in the state.”

He describes another side that makes this such an expensive disaster is the extent of the damage. Many houses across Texas had power problems, while others had pipe issues that led to flooding.

According to Dr. Doty, the people who are considered to be struggling more with the burdens of the pandemic are now facing the brunt of the winter storm impacts.

“So those folks take a double whammy and it’s going to be very difficult to recover from additional stress and additional financial burdens,” he says.

Although, he adds that, believe it or not, disasters like the winter storm end up having a positive effect on the economy in the long run and it doesn’t take long before that starts. He says the boost in economy will progress overtime as it comes with all of the repairing and rebuilding from public property to individual homes.

“When you think about all the plumbers who are working overtime,” says Dr. Doty, “all of the people buying repair material and all of the parts that need to be sold to repair houses and pipes and what not. So we’re on the very start of that.”

He predicts most people will see a positive result from the economy within 6-18 months from now. He says there’s a hidden cost that not many people have accounted for yet. He explains that it’s not necessarily the damage done to the electric grid that is the most pressing right now, but rather the cost of fixing the energy infrastructure within the state so the same thing doesn’t happen again.

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