Northwest Houston businesses work to recover after Harvey

September 12, 2017

The business owners at the Cypresswood Kroger Shopping Center are slowly but surely making a comeback after all of them were flooded by several feet of water during Tropical Storm Harvey.

While Kroger’s doors and windows were boarded up during the storm, workers began the process of throwing out everything out of the storm last week and cleaning.

Kroger spokesperson Joy Partain everything in the store was thrown out, including electronic equipment, flooring, racks and merchandise were tossed into dumpsters.

“It will be a huge remediation worth millions of dollars of restoration,” she said. “They’ll be better than new.”

The Kroger located in Champions Forest was also closed due to the storm. Partain said both locations had two to three feet of flooding. They are expected to open in November by Thanksgiving or in December around Christmas.

“It’s a miracle that more stores weren’t damaged, but it’s a shame that two in the same area closed due to damage,” Partain said.

Next door, Ajay Patel, owner of PG Liquors, said it seemed like around 40 workers would take shopping carts full of ruined merchandise and equipment out of the store to toss in the dumpsters set in the parking lot.

“It looked like they gut the entire place,” he said. “They took everything.”

He said his own shop didn’t sustain a lot of damage, despite him and the adjoining tenants getting four feet of water in their storefronts. The last time the plaza tenants got water in their shops was in April 2016, but the intensity of the flooding Harvey brought surprised him, he said.

“I knew it was going to happen again after last year, I just didn’t know it would happen this soon,” Patel said. “I don’t think it’s going to happen again for a while.”

The other storefronts and restaurants set out furniture and damaged items as Servpro workers cleaned and set dehumidifiers to dry out the shops.

“We cut everything else and we power washed it and detail hand cleaning it so that it’s completely sanitary, free of germs and everything so that it can be rebuilt on,” said Richard Gossett, operations manager of Servpro.

Next door to PG Liquors, Cypresswood Cleaners owner Sam Dang said this is the second time they plaza has flooded in less than two years.

About a foot of water got inside the shop during the last flood in April 2016, which motivated him to get flood insurance, he said.

“It’s just tough to recover and get going again,” he said.

In his dry cleaning shop, every customer has a drawstring bag assigned for dropped off clothing. To prepare for Harvey, he placed the bags on the counter. When he and his wife Tracy Dang came to check on the shop, they found everything floating in four feet of water.

“We stacked it up on the counter,” Dang said. “Everything flipped upside down, so everything’s wet.”

This time, he said he’s had to pay around $7,000 for replacement parts and repairs to some of his machines and doesn’t know how much more he’ll have to pay for customers’ damaged clothes.

Despite not being officially opened, Dang and Tracy were still taking customers’ clothing for dry cleaning and handing out claim tickets.

“We’re here,” he said. “We need them to come in so we have something to do when we open. If they don’t come to drop off (clothes), then we don’t make money.”

Beside them, Vivi Nails & Spa is not doing so well, said owner Victor Nguyen. Although his home in Tomball didn’t have any damage, the flooding ruined everything in the salon.

The last time his business flooded in April 2016, he said around 10 inches of water got inside the shop. To prepare this time, he raised the equipment and furniture two and a half feet off the floor. When the rains came, his shop got four feet of water.

“It was record (flooding) last year and now, it’s even worse,” he said. “I thought I saved this. I prepared when everyone did not, but when I came back here, everything was gone.”

Nguyen said he did not have flood insurance for his business, but wouldn’t seek financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the Small Business Association. Instead, he plans on getting loans from family and friends to replace the ruined equipment and furniture.

He also said he planned on getting insurance in case it happens again.

“We’ve been for five years and we can’t just go anywhere else,” he said.

Like Nguyen, Patel said he doesn’t plan on moving his liquor store out of the plaza.

“You can’t think like that,” Patel said. “It’s like if you have a car accident. ‘I’m never going to drive again.’ You’re going to drive again. You can’t take Uber everywhere.”