After Harvey: How US Manufacturers Are Helping…and What You Can Do

Sept. 6, 2017
Hurricane Harvey, one of the worst natural disasters in American history, has spurred one of the quickest, most prodigious disaster relief responses. As appreciated as monetary donations are, we think your engineering expertise is more valuable.

At least sixty people dead.  Forty thousand homes destroyed. Hundreds of thousands more homes damaged. Up to 1 million cars totaled. An estimated 27 trillion gallons of rain falling on Texas and Louisiana.

 These are the horrific stats associated with Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall Aug. 25 and proceeded to waterboard Houston and surrounding cities for an entire weekend.

Images of inundated neighborhoods and flooded nursing homes punctuated just how catastrophic the damage was, is, and will be for years. The cost to repair and replace homes, businesses, and infrastructure could hit $180 billion, Texas Governor Greg Abbott says. The projected bill is secondary to the current suffering and displacement of Americans, many of whom lost everything.

With Caribbean islanders and Floridians bracing for Irma, it would be easier to throw your hands up in surrender than let your heart sink. What can any of us really do to fight this literal constant deluge Mother (F'r) Nature keeps dropping on us?

Well, to start, take a look at the hundreds of pictures and videos documenting the brave first responders and volunteers that kept Harvey from taking more lives than it has, in the streets that turned into rivers to roofs that became islands. Emergency response and everyday people taking action kept the death toll at 3% of Hurricane Katrina, though Houston had three times the water pumped out than New Orleans.

For such historic rainfall — and in America's fourth largest city no less—this is really the best possible outcome where loss of life, or lack thereof, is concerned. And that $180 billion estimate is still $20 billion less than what we spent on the Iraq War per year.

Yes, things could have been much worse. A silver lining on a continent-sized cloud just means things aren’t totally hopeless, though. Texas could use all the help it can get. There is a lot to fix, and a lot to figure out.

 A contractor begins the arduous Hurricane Harvey clean-up by removing moldy moulding.

This is basically what you, our readers, do on a daily basis. Your boss gives you the ingredients for a crap sandwich and you figure out how to build a ham & Swiss, and make it cheaper and taste better than the deli down the road.

Here at NED, our small part in all this is telling you about the different type of equipment that will help you achieve your goals. We know next to nothing when it comes to fixing anything more severe than a leaky pipe, but we communicate with thousands of engineers and plant managers on a daily basis that really know how to fix the world.

American manufacturers are already stepping up, as you can see in the photo gallery below. Most have pledged $1 million, while retailer Wal-Mart has pledged up to $20 million in cash and merchandise, doubling customer donations up to that amount. As of now, Houston native Michael Dell, founder of Dell Technologies, has pledged the most, $36 million to the Rebuild Texas Fund through his foundation.

None of us can make an impact like this alone, but there are 1.6 million employed engineers in America, and about 12.5 million total manufacturing workers. If all of them donated $3, or less than 15 minutes of work, that would eclipse the largest donation, from Houston native Michael Dell, founder of Dell Technologies. He pledged the most, $36 million to the Rebuild Texas Fund through his foundation.

But your expertise and critical thinking skills are worth way more.

We think together we can come up with some great ideas on how to help Texas and Florida, so consider this as us starting a dialogue.  If you have an engineering tips on how to safely rewire a home, repair a floor, or even to recommend an affordable toolset, let us know.

Our emails are [email protected]  and  John.Hitch@penton.  Send us your tips and put them up on the website as a resource for people affected by the hurricanes or for those who want to come down and volunteer.

And for inspiration, here are several manufacturers who have already donated to the rebuilding efforts: