How Hurricane Ida could impact Texas businesses and drivers

AUSTIN (KXAN) — While the full damage of Hurricane Ida is still being assessed, Texas business owners and industry experts are already preparing to feel impacts.

Ida made landfall twice in Louisiana over the weekend, both times as a major category four hurricane.

Seafood

Jack Gilmore, owner of Jack Allen’s Kitchen, said the seafood industry was already in trouble due to COVID-19.

“Supply chain issues, freight has become a really big issue in the last year and a half with truck drivers falling out,” said Christopher Ten Eyck, Culinary director for Salt Traders Coastal Cooking and Jack Allen’s Kitchen, sister restaurants.

Ten Eyck said it’s meant a 20 to 25% price increase in seafood and packaging products for owners.

He said they’re now bracing for another price hike due to Ida: The two Salt Traders locations alone import 20,000 gulf oysters per week, along with about 800 pounds of black drum fish.

TenEyck said as the Gulf coast recovers from Ida, they may have to source more oysters from other coasts and find farm-raised black drum fish. If the quality doesn’t measure up, though, he said they may take items off the menu. (KXAN Photo/Tahera Rahman)

“It’s not just the fact of whether the fishing fleets have been damaged and whether they can go out or not, there’s also the infrastructural issues that you have to get the fish to where it’s going really fast,” explained Edward Anderson, a supply chain expert with the University of Texas at Austin. “And so to the extent that the airports are knocked out, and the port capacity is down.”

Gilmore told KXAN he expects to feel hurricane impacts will for the next couple of weeks, saying Ida hit a “very critical piece of the Gulf of Mexico.”

TLC Austin told KXAN it will likely have trouble getting red snapper due to the storm.

“Whenever a supply chain issue arises, rather than just taking a price increase on it and penalizing the guest for that, we’ll just remove something off of our menu,” Ten Eyck said.

But he said they won’t be doing that just yet, until vendors assess damage to boats and the ecosystem.

“Fingers crossed. We’re just going to, you know, hope that everybody came out of this okay and hope that there’s some bounty left in the sea for us to feed our guests,” he said.

Gas

Anderson said damage is also still being assessed at oil and gas facilities, but refineries are currently out of power.

“Which is about 8% of our refinery capacity in the U.S. approximately. Now, whether they’re going to be down a week, or five weeks, nobody’s quite sure yet, because it’s dependent upon how stable power grid is in Louisiana and other related utilities issues,” Anderson explained.

He said besides Hurricane Katrina, previous hurricanes that have hit the gulf have resulted in about a 10-15 cent rise per gallon.

Daniel Armbruster with AAA Texas said we could see that impact start in the next few days and last for a few weeks.

“That’s the biggest takeaway for drivers, is knowing that we could see some prices fluctuate but typically, this doesn’t last more than a few weeks after a hurricane and then things go back to normal,” he said.

Armbruster said the price increase most likely won’t get as high as after Hurricane Harvey.

“We get our fuel from, you know, down in the Corpus Christi area, Houston area. Those places were not impacted by this storm, at least not significantly, so certainly it’s not going to have as big of an impact to Texas as say, [Hurricane] Harvey did,” he said.

Armbruster said at least one of the nine oil and gas providers along Hurricane Ida’s path, Exxon, says their facility was not damaged.

That means once power is restored, they would be able to restart operations.

Armbruster said that’s a good sign– if we do experience gas disruptions, it should be back to full capacity within a few weeks.

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