Texas businesses are beginning the cleanup process after severe weather sparked deadly flooding throughout the state over the weekend.
Houston was among the most recent cities to feel the impact of the storm. Overnight torrential downpours on Monday dropped around 11 inches of rain on the city bringing key freeways, roads and destinations to a halt.
Zaid Sultan, chairman of the board at the Houston Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, said from what he saw in the galleria section in the city, things were definitely impacted – including the Houston Galleria mall which had a flooded parking lot.
“The flood really hit many of the major arteries in and out of the city,” said Sultan. “Most, if not all the city was closed yesterday.”
He said things were back up and running more like normal today, though some areas remained impassable and he hadn’t yet heard from member businesses as to what the impact was on them. Sultan said he thought the damage would have been worse had it been during the day versus overnight. “Houston is a fairly resilient city,” he said.
The small town of Wimberley, Texas, which sits approximately halfway between San Antonio and Austin, also sustained damage. The town, which is known for its bed and breakfasts and resorts, are beginning the cleanup process after Saturday’s storm.
For store owner Traci Ferguson at women’s boutique On a Branch, she said that while her store was damaged, she expected to be back up and running by the weekend. Four stores across the street that were closer to the creek, had four to five feet of water in them, according to Ferguson.
“We had muddy water come into our store, a few inches, just over the baseboards,” said Ferguson. “We threw away a small amount of merchandise…Boxes of paper bags were ruined but not a significant amount in dollars. We had an army of volunteers who showed up the next day willing to do anything that was needed to help. It was amazing.”
Ferguson said she was concerned that people wouldn’t return to Wimberley as quickly do to the flooding and the media coverage, and said she expected business to slow for a bit. “Wimberley is a great getaway spot and hopefully people will want to continue to come here and support our economy. On A Branch plans to stay right here. We love Wimberley and [all this support] just emphasizes why it’s such a great community and wonderful place to live,” she said.
According to John Palumbo, the director of finance at the Wimberley Valley Chamber of Commerce, the town square and central shopping district came out unscathed, but there were still businesses affected. He said the residents and resorts on the outer-edges felt the biggest impact, including a few key resorts. He is hoping that the news of the flood doesn’t impact business too much in the long term.
“Right now a lot of our business owners are just helping out with clearing out debris but they’re open,” said Palumbo. “We’re trying to encourage and tell tourists they’re still invited. We’re doing the best we can to build as fast as possible. June and July are our busiest time of the year.”
Jacque Mason, a owner of Wall Street Western and president of the Wimberley Merchants Association, echoed Palumbo’s sentiments and said plans are already underway for a benefit event in June. “Emotions are raw right now,” she said. “We still have tons of places to stay and places to shop. We need a positive image right now: we’re still here.”