• Harvey's Impact: This Is How Much It's Going To Cost Houston
  • September 25, 2017
  • Hurricane Harvey, one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, could wreak tens of billions of dollars in damage to the Houston area when residents return to repair and rebuild their homes, schools and businesses, economists say.

    Economic activity has mostly halted around the Houston area as flooding and evacuations have continued throughout the week. About 20 people have died as of early Aug. 30 due to the storm that persistently brought more than four dozen inches of rain to Houston, affecting nearly all areas from Katy to Port Houston.

    Damage costs could place Harvey among the top-10 highest economically impactful hurricanes in the nation's history, said Patrick Jankowski, a regional economist and vice president of research at the Greater Houston Partnership.

    That means the rebuilding process could stretch well into 2018.

    "This will filter out to all aspects of the economy,” Jankowski said.

    The current impact is unknown as Harvey lingers over a rain-exhausted Houston, economists say. But a week's worth of economic output in Houston is valued at about $10 billion, Jankowski said.

    Moody's Analytics, a New York-based financial analysis company, has pegged the destruction to southeast Texas, which includes the Rockport area where Harvey made landfall, as of mid-morning Aug. 29 at about $75 billion, covering homes, vehicles, businesses, infrastructure and lost economic output.

    Homes and vehicles alone in the region are expected to suffer about $30 billion to $40 billion in damage, according to an email from a Moody's representative. Regional businesses could see up to $15 billion in damage.

    BBVA Research U.S. estimated damage as high as $60 billion, which could could affect Texas' real GDP by more than 1 percent, according to an Aug. 30 report.

    The epicenter of the business disruption will undoubtably be Harris County, which encompasses the city of Houston, said Karl Kuykendall, manager of U.S. regional economics at London-based analytics and information company IHS Markit.

    Harvey's wake has inflicted damage across about two dozen Texas counties, which make up roughly 35 percent of Texas' GDP. Harris County, though, makes up about 70 percent of the GDP in those counties.

    "From an economic activity standpoint, disruption in Harris County will be by far the most impactful," Kuykendall said.