Though officials know that the physical and financial damage caused by Hurricane Harvey were significant, they still are uncertain about the storm’s impact on the health and housing of Houston residents. To find out more about the impact of the storm on Houston residents, the Environmental Defense Fund, Rice University, and the Houston Health Department created the Hurricane Harvey Registry.
Researchers released results from the first round of data collection from the registry in late February. The results consist of information collected from over 13,000 people, and officials say that the numbers represent the experiences of over 40,000 Houston residents. The survey is the first of its kind after a hurricane.
Why Was the Registry Created?
Creators of the registry used the World Trade Center Health Registry as a blueprint to create the Hurricane Harvey Registry. The World Trade Center Health Registry allowed officials to create and release over 100 studies about the health effects of 9/11. Houston officials are hoping that information collected from their registry will help identify the problems that residents need help with the most.
What Did the Registry Find?
After Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana, a registry such as this could have helped officials learn more about the effects of a significant hurricane. Marie Lynn Miranda, an official from Rice University, said that she hopes this registry will help people across the nation after future storms.
The registry found the following from respondents:
- 46 percent were displaced
- 44 percent had their home flooded
- 55 percent had their home damaged
- 41 percent experienced a loss of income
- 34 percent saw their vehicles damaged by the storm
Displacement from the storm lasted for an average of 20 weeks. Notably, the registry also found significant implications for the mental health of Houston residents.
Mental health impacts of respondents include:
- 59 percent of respondents claim that Harvey invades their thoughts consistently
- 52 percent of people said images from the storm still bother them
- 37 percent of respondents report having trouble sleeping
- 33 percent reported a numbing of emotions
- 30 percent reported recurring dreams about Hurricane Harvey
During a press conference to discuss the Hurricane Harvey Registry, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner commented that “People still anxiously look out the window when it rains. They want to know whether the water’s still within the bayou, if it’s on their street, if it’s a threat to come into their home,” he said. “They are calling 311. Harvey’s mental health aspect is still very much present.”
This survey will continue to remain open, so researchers continue to collect elusive data. Some suffering is not as obvious, and officials can only find out who to help with data collected from studies. Damage done by storms like Hurricane Harvey can only be prevented with data from storm responses in Houston and across the nation.
Residents may take the survey by visiting the Rice University website.