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Measuring The Economic Impact Of This Week’s Storm

a convenience store with closed signs on its windows
Julia Reihs/KUT
A 7-Eleven convenience store in Austin closed during the storm.

From Texas Standard:

This week’s winter storm has undoubtedly taken a toll on the Texas economy. But how big of a toll, and how does it compare to other natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey?

Ray Perryman, president and CEO of The Perryman Group in Waco, told Texas Standard that there’s not enough data yet to determine the full extent of economic damage, but he expects the storm to cost Texas in the billions – not quite the tens of billions like Harvey.

“Things have to be fixed and repaired, and obviously some losses from our agricultural sector and elsewhere,” he said. “So we certainly expect it to be a multibillion-dollar impact, but I doubt it gets quite to the level of some of the worst storms we’ve seen, such as Harvey.”

Perryman says a recent winter storm in Spain could give some idea of what Texas is facing.

“The closest thing we have right now is some numbers out of a storm that was roughly equivalent to this over in Spain back in January,” he said. “Of course, it’s a very different economy and very different structure there. Total damage was about $2.2 billion direct cost. I expect actually much higher than that [in Texas].”

Perryman says some of his earlier mathematical models have shown that the likeliest sectors to be hit hardest would be food processing and petrochemical refining. But those models also indicated that transportation, retail and professional services would also take big financial hits.

He says the full impact will become clearer over the next two weeks, after which he can build models to predict the effects going forward.

The upcoming recovery will enable some communities to build back stronger, he says. But it will have to go hand in hand with the state working to prevent such a disaster in the future.

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Caroline Covington is Texas Standard's digital producer/reporter. She joined the team full time after finishing her master's in journalism at the UT J-School. She specializes in mental health reporting, and has a growing interest in data visualization. Before Texas Standard, Caroline was a freelancer for public radio, digital news outlets and podcasts, and produced a podcast pilot for Audible. Prior to journalism, she wrote and edited for marketing teams in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. She has a bachelor's in biology from UC Santa Barbara and a master's in French Studies from NYU.
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