Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ike Day 5 from Houston

I have a friend who has 2 galleries in Houston and they live on the 22nd floor of a highrise, in which they have no electricity. We've been through heartbreak like this, fire, hurricane, etc so know how they feel. But I will say I'd rather be in a small town like New Bern and go through it than in a big city. Lets all send them good thoughts and do what we can to help.

News from Houston: day 5 Sept 17, 2008

Thank you for your correspondence! We are moving forward. Our small store (inside a mall) had no damage whatsoever. Our big, beautiful store at Uptown Park had 40 gallons of rainwater come in through 12 new roof leaks. It came down on fixtures and merchandise. No broken windows, miraculously because the Galleria/Uptown area where we are located was particularly hard hit. Our landlord says that of all their 140 properties, we had the most damage. Not counting business-interruption, we are estimating $20 to 30 thousand in lost merchandise. More $ if counting cleanup, repairs to fixtures, drywall, lighting and employees hours to do all this. We have good insurance with $1000 deductable…I will never gripe about how high it is again. Our business interruption insurance has a 72 hour deductable, so that will help in time.

What we can’t account for (from Rita, Allison and 911 experiences) is when the customers will decide they need a feel-good item or birthday gift and come back into the store. I know we will do business the day after the election and on to the end of the year, possibly even very good business because the customers finally want to feel good about something, but between now and then it’s going to be rough. The majority of Houston (1.7 mil people) is still without power and this is day 5. Three-quarters of our personnel are still without power and some without water. They are desperate for air-conditioning (both of our stores have that now) and their paychecks, so we have plenty of hands to clean up the mess. Our customers are still worried about when schools can open, where to find a hot meal, how long to wait in the gas lines, how to keep clean, and when their lives can get back to normal. Many of our customers have second homes in the Texas hill country, so they vacated and aren’t coming back until they have electricity. At least we’re not hearing anything about the election!!! That’s the only nice reprieve. In fact, we are not hearing or seeing much of anything…you are getting much more news about this than we are able to get.

If I could get any word out to the craft movement about this or any disaster, it is that even though it is not fresh news to the rest of the world since it happened almost a week ago, it has impacted our local economy for weeks (maybe months) to come.

The craft movement has been very supportive with offers to help anyway they can: with offers of special terms at least until the end of the year, with offers to do follow-up calls for us, and any number of other offers. I almost cried when my last phone call asked if any of her work was damaged, for she would replace it free of charge. Now that is real charity. I had hundreds of emails, when we finally got power, asking about our status and wishing us well. Ninety percent of them want to know exactly what they could do to help. Several artists have called and offered a consignment basis until the end of the year. Now this is what “helping your neighbor out in a crisis” is all about. We are slowly answering all these well wishers as we have power and can take the time out of cleaning up. We thank them all.

I have not heard any horror stories involving artists here in Houston. They are probably trying to survive and get power, food, water and gas like the rest of us. They might not have internet, land lines or even working cell phones.

No comments:

Post a Comment