Houston/ Real Estate & Development
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Published on May 23, 2024
Thousands of Windows Shattered as Storm Reshapes Houston Skyline, Repairs Set for Lengthy DelaysSource: Wikipedia/Hequals2henry, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Houston's skyline has been dramatically altered following a severe storm that swept through the city, leaving thousands of shattered windows in its wake. The damage is extensive, with ongoing complications as window repairs face significant delays, possibly leaving downtown looking like a jagged mosaic of plywood for much longer than expected. Kris Larson, president of management district Downtown Houston, highlighted the severity of the situation, “Stressed glass in certain cases is also starting to crack, and that’s increasing the total number of windows that are going to need to be replaced,” Larson told the Houston Chronicle.

The derecho storm, packed with winds exceeding 70 mph, wreaked havoc across the city's downtown area,damaging an estimated 4,000 windows. However, as the assessment continues, that number is expected to climb. A University of Houston professor and structural engineer, Joe Colaco, explained, "it’s common to see more windows break in the aftermath of a violent storm. Pieces of a window that breaks on the 30th floor, for example, can fall and shatter those below" in a statement obtained by the Houston Chronicle. The pressing concern now is not just the immediate cleanup but bracing for the upcoming hurricane season.

As officials scramble to manage the situation, Mayor John Whitmire urged downtown employers to allow telecommuting until the safety of their buildings can be assured. Echoing the mayor's call, Chevron, the downtown area's largest employer, has shuttered its offices, signaling the severity of the issue at hand. Chris Sneck, executive vice president at Cotton Global Disaster Services, remarked on the scale of the recovery efforts, “It’s not a weeklong process. It’s several months of work that goes into this,” emphasizing the longevity of the repair timeline, as reported by KPRC 2 Houston.

Closed streets and the constant risk of falling glass have not only affected those working in the office towers but also conjured massive traffic delays. Maricela Lopez's daily commute emerged as a testament to this new urban reality, taking nearly twice as long as usual. Local businesses, still reeling from pandemic-induced downturns, now face a fresh wave of financial stress, with some reporting a slump in sales similar to lockdown periods. Mayor Whitmire's recommendation for non-essential remote work is expected to remain in place at least until the end of Memorial Day Weekend.

Builders and property managers have been thrust into a race against time, trying to secure structures against the elements before hurricane season sets in. Temporary measures like waterproofing have taken precedence, though the intricate process of custom-ordering glass for each distinctive skyscraper means that the city's profile will likely be marked by the storm's after-effects for the foreseeable future. Property management companies like Hines and Brookfield Properties have not yet provided concrete timelines for the full restoration of their respective damaged properties, signalling the long and winding road to recovery that lies ahead for Houston's towering landmarks.

Houston-Real Estate & Development