Widespread outages, particularly in Texas, have left millions of residents without power in frigid temperatures for a third day. At least 26 people have died.
The storm also forced hundreds of businesses large and small to close their doors. While some businesses have been able to resume operations, many other face days more before they’ll be able to return to normal.
“It’s going to take several days for it to come back,” said Kloza. “Most will be restarting by the weekend. It won’t be as challenging as coming back after a hurricane when there is wind and water damage.”
Despite the severity and scope of the storm, the impact on the economy overall may be muted because of the pandemic, said Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody’s Analytics.
“Normally with a storm like this, you’d say the lasting damage would be lost economic activity that can’t be recouped — travel, going out to eat or the movies,” he said. “We’re not doing those things as much anyhow. You can’t shutdown businesses that are already shutdown.”
“Next time we talk might not be billions,” Zandi said. “We might be tens of billions or even hundreds of billions.”
Some auto plants reopening
Plants in Texas operated by GM and Toyota remained closed Wednesday, as did a GM plant in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Toyota’s plant in San Antonio, Texas, will stay shut through at least Thursday.
But the struggles aren’t over for the auto industry, even if the worst of the weather has passed. Some plants that had stayed open earlier in the week were forced to cancel or curtail production Wednesday due to the lack of available parts from suppliers. That was the case at the Sterling Heights, Michigan, plant of Stellantis, as well as at Volkswagen’s only US plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Airlines continued to cancel flights in the region. The nation’s four largest airlines — American, United, Delta and Southwest — canceled 2,220 flights on Wednesday, after canceling 2,450 flights Tuesday.
Those airlines account for more than 80% of the nation’s air traffic, and three of them — American, Southwest and United — have major hubs in Texas that were hit by the storm. Another 1,230 of Thursday’s flights were already canceled, according to Helane Becker, airline analyst for Cowen, who cited data from tracking service FlightAware.
— CNN’s Pete Muntean contributed to this report.