Impact of Hurricanes on Small Construction Business and Their Recovery



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About 3 to 5 hurricanes on average impact the U.S. every year. Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Harvey, each accounted for over a hundred billion dollars in damages. Small businesses face numerous challenges during major disasters. A better understanding of disaster recovery performance of small businesses is critical to enhance their resilience and thus protect our economy and employment for future recurring disasters. This study characterizes the impact of Hurricane Harvey on small construction business with respect to damages to their facilities, supply and demand, and business operation. Their recovery performance – whether businesses fully recovered or not, how long it took, funding sources, challenges, resilience practice, and lessons learned – is closely examined through an interview study in addition to a previously conducted survey study. Small construction businesses tend to use work volume as the primary measure of whether their business is fully recovered or not. The full recovery time for construction industry is nearly 6 months like other industries. In addition, investing in resilience significantly shorten the recovery time, evidenced by the mean recovery time of 6 months and 9 months for resilience investing business and non-investing ones respectively. There is a wide range of efforts observed in preparing their business against hurricanes (i.e., disaster preparedness) and reviving their operation quicker to the pre-disaster level (i.e., business resilience). This paper also highlights observations of the unique challenges faced by women-owned construction businesses.



Small business, Construction, Hurricane, Recovery, Lessons learned