Beset by storms and floods, Fort Bend County businesses plot path to recovery after Harvey

Residents line up outside the Sugar Land H-E-B as the grocery store reopened after Hurricane Harvey caused mass flooding in the region.

Residents line up outside the Sugar Land H-E-B as the grocery store reopened after Hurricane Harvey caused mass flooding in the region.

As gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants reopen in Fort Bend County after historic rains from Hurricane Harvey brought the region to a standstill this past week, other local businesses still have substantial hurdles to overcome.

The Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce is working to assist local business owners affected by Hurricane Harvey as they try to get their companies back up and running, chamber President and CEO Keri Schmidt said. The focus for many business owners, Schmidt said, is still on personal affairs as area homes have sustained damage from the storms and flooding.

Although safety has been the No. 1 concern of everyone in the chamber, Schmidt said, her staff's attention has begun to turn toward the recovery of the business community.

“We stand ready to assist [authorities] in any of those efforts, but as a chamber of commerce, our primary goal is to help our businesses get open and rebuild and get them back on their feet," Schmidt said.

Some businesses may be eligible for federal government assistance, including disaster loans from the Small Business Administration. The chamber has added to its website a collection of disaster-relief resources for business owners.

The chamber, which has roughly 1,300 members throughout the county, is busy calling its members to assess their immediate needs and coordinate aid with the Texas Association of Business and other partners, Schmidt said.

"We are making calls to our members, but then we are also fielding calls from a variety of people," Schmidt said. "I just received, for example, a notification that there is a machinist company in Austin that is offering their services to any company down here in the same business, that they can help them fill their orders."

Schmidt said on Thursday it was unclear how many businesses with damaged facilities may have been without flood insurance.

“Places have flooded that have never flooded," Schmidt said.

 


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