The news out of the hard-hit Texas metropolis near the Gulf Coast continues to get worse as Hurricane Harvey has dumped more than 30 inches of rain on the region in recent days, with a total that could top 50 inches before the slow moving storm tracks eastward this week. At least 10 deaths have been attributed to the storm and as many as 30,000 people sought emergency shelter. According to The New York Times, as many as 450,000 people may eventually seek federal disaster relief.
In addition to the immense scale of the humanitarian disaster, the storm is causing significant disruption of the industrial infrastructure of the metro area, which is the nation’s fourth largest. Eight oil refineries, which account for about one-eighth of the nation’s overall capacity, have closed down, and flight operations have been suspended at both of Houston’s major airports.
The airports themselves are reportedly still above water, but were closed because access roads are flooded. It is a similar situation that is affecting Aker’s plant, which the company brought up to full scale operation last year. The plant is in the northwestern quadrant of the city, which from all available information appears to be not as hard hit as other areas. But the transportation dislocations have made continued operations impossible, the company said.
“Due to severe weather conditions we did a controlled shutdown of our Houston manufacturing plant on Friday, securing all assets and the site. The top priority in this situation is always the safety of our employees and their families. Apart from some of the key staff that has been on site to monitor the situation, the employees are staying at home. We were in contact with all of our Houston employees yesterday and everyone is safe. Our employees are definitely in areas that have flooded, but none of them have experienced flooding in their homes,”the company said in a statement.
“We are constantly monitoring the situation and have established routines to secure the safety of our employees and the site, and communicate status. Apart from some minor leaks due to heavy rain, there is no damage to the plant. We have enough safety stock to manage the supply to our customers,” the company stated.
“Our thoughts are with everyone who is affected by these extreme weather conditions and [we] hope everyone stays safe,” the company concluded.
There was no word yet as to when operations at the plant might resume.