Preliminary reports are saying that Hurricane Harvey has surpassed the rainfall record from a single storm in the continental U.S. You won’t find Texas operators denying that fact as they fight to recover from over four feet of rain decimating their businesses.
“People keep asking me what it’s like, and in the end, the only word that comes to mind is Biblical,” said Lee Jordan, who operates multiple FECs in the Houston area. Lee and his brother Chris were able to get into one of their locations, the Bay Area Raceway in Dickinson, Texas, just recently, and they found a scene of utter destruction. Over three feet of water inside the building, games submerged, the corpses of two horses on the go kart track, and a thick layer of slimy, sticky mud coating everything in sight.
“There’s barely even space to work,” Lee said. “Imagine a chess board, we have to clean one little square, move everything over and clean the next square.” Another of the Jordan’s locations, which is 60 miles north of Bay Area Raceway, was hit just as hard, and to add insult to injury, Lee says it was looted several times as well. “The cameras were watching and there wasn’t a damned thing we could do,” Lee said.
Helplessness and despair threaten to hit hard in times like these, but for the Jordans and many other operators in the area, hard work is the first response. Lee and Chris were happy to report that they’d seen an outpouring of support from their family, friends, longtime customers and the community. However, hard work can only take you so far and the brothers are still looking at tough times ahead.
“We’d poured so much money and time into the arcade over the last few years, and all of it is gone,” Lee said. “We’re going to have to come up with some kind of magic and try to restore it. The amount of work is staggering though.”
Lee said it will be at least a month, if not more, before the location can reopen fully. The crew is working around the clock to clear off their go kart track, the core of the business, and hope to have that up and running by next week. That is, if they can find the help they need to keep pushing through.
“We’ve seen a complete and total loss of infrastructure here. Everyone in our part of the world is flooded,” Lee said. “Our bank, our insurance agency, the grocery stores, everything.”
On a more positive note, Lee and Chris reported that their families, friends and employees had come through the storm unscathed, and at least the rain has stopped for now. “I went outside last night at around 9 P.M. and for the first time didn’t get soaked,” Lee said.
Houston Game Repair, another coin-op long timer about 50 miles north of Lee and Chris, may have dodged some of the damage. Vazric Gregorian, owner of the business, said he believed the shop was okay as of Tuesday. His home was flooded, though, and he was evacuated by volunteers in a kayak earlier this week. Industry friends report that he and his family are safe now.
The situation is dire for many businesses hit hard by Harvey, and any help is greatly appreciated. If you would like to offer assistance, whether you’re a manufacturer willing to offer deals on new games or game repairs, an operator lucky enough to dodge this natural disaster or anyone else, please contact RePlay and we will do what we can to put you in touch with the right people.