The construction industry is a major contributor to the U.S. economy, comprised of more than 745,000 employers and 7.6 million-plus employees. The sector creates nearly $1.4 trillion worth of structures each year, according to AGC (The Construction Association). It is also one of the most vital indicators of a country’s economic performance.
After a Disaster: Construction Is Crucial to Recovery Efforts
The construction industry and its varied tradespeople – from sheet metal workers to carpenters, drywallers, electricians, plumbers, roofers, painters, and many others – are whom we count on in the aftermath of a natural disaster. These skilled construction workers help rebuild office buildings, homes, schools, roads, bridges, factories, and other structures. They also build stronger and smarter to help infrastructure and facilities weather the next disaster. For example, after Hurricane Sandy devastated Manhattan in 2012, builders learned not to place mechanical and electrical equipment in basements, as flooded buildings lost power for several weeks in some cases.
Another example of the construction industry at work was in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, when thousands of homes and businesses in Houston were damaged due to flooding. This prompted Texas Governor Greg Abbott to create the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas to address the billions of dollars in damages, and the demand for construction, machinery, building products, and engineering firms surged. As a result, construction firms had to boost their labor forces to meet the demand for services. One Texas firm, for example, to meet its industrial clients’ needs, increased its local workforce by 25%. Electrical and instrumentation repairs were at the top of the list in most flood situations.
The construction industry is now dealing with the fallout from Hurricane Ian in September 2022, which caused billions of dollars in property damage in Florida. Destructive floods and high winds tore into buildings and infrastructure, such as the Sanibel Island causeway. According to consultancy firm L.E.K., construction demand is expected to follow a four- to six-month cleanup period and remain relatively high for the following years. In addition, coastal locations will likely need to be rebuilt due to widespread damage. Not only did Hurricane Ian cause immense structural damage, but according to L.E.K., more than 5,000 homes and almost 300 businesses in one county alone were utterly destroyed, requiring a total rebuild. Moreover, satellite images show the hurricane’s impact may have also changed Florida’s coastline.
The construction industry also plays a unique – and critical – role in the lives of people living in wildfire-affected areas. Construction workers can pivot in times of crisis, deploying resources quickly and effectively where needed with their experience and tools in hand. For example, in 2018, after the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, construction workers built temporary housing units for more than 300 families who were displaced. They also created new, permanent roads surrounding the community.
ISC provides several Liability insurance programs for the construction industry – a sector vital to our economy and rebuilding our communities and infrastructure in the aftermath of destruction.