Ray Aldrete watched the weather forecast begin to take on an ominous tone late last week. A tropical storm heading up the Gulf Coast toward his Houston home was suddenly looking much worse. Warnings were posted. A Category 1 hurricane developed, then became a Category 2. No one knew exactly where along the south Texas coast it would come ashore or how strong it might actually become. Hurricanes are unpredictable beasts.
The owner of Ray’s Sports Cards, an online business that sells vintage and high-end modern material, Aldrete decided he had better prepare for the worst as Hurricane Harvey headed north.
“When they said it was intensifying last Thursday, I packed everything away. My bank has some large safety deposit boxes located on the third floor that are safe and secure,” he told Sports Collectors Daily on Monday. “I packed up some containers and took them there on Thursday. The rest I have easy access to and is packed up tight in sealed containers. I didn’t want to take any chances.”
Sports card dealers and shop owners in the Houston area are used to heavy rains and big storms blowing in, but they say Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 at its peak, has been unlike anything they’ve ever seen.
“Just about anywhere you go in Houston is under water,” Aldrete said. “In 40-plus years, I’ve never seen places flood that are flooded now.”
While flood waters haven’t threatened the community where he lives, driving anywhere is difficult.
“We’re surrounded by it. And we’re still in the danger zone. All you can do is stay close to the TV and monitor the weather.”
Some shops and businesses in the area were closed as normal on Monday while others had shut down because of the storm’s impact.
The TRISTAR team’s thoughts and prayers are with our Houston and surrounding area neighbors during this time.
— TRISTAR Productions (@TRISTAR1) August 27, 2017
In Katy, a community located about 25 miles from the hard hit area of downtown Houston, Greg Sohlden of Odyssey Comics and Cards answered the phone at the shop he’s run for more than 25 years. He wasn’t expecting any customers, just hoping UPS would bring the packages that had been scheduled for delivery on Friday.
“So far we’re OK but it just keeps pounding us,” he said of the incessant rain that began falling last week. “We’ve had about 24 inches so far in this area. They say the storm is moving at about two miles an hour.”
Sohlden managed to stay open both Friday and Saturday, although business wasn’t exactly booming. On the “dirty” side of the hurricane, his shop was spared from serious flooding but some well-traveled roads nearby were closed. He lives near the shop, which is located on North Fry Road.
The unceasing rain and flooded roads have created some cabin fever.
“I actually had some customers come in on Saturday. A couple of guys said it was partly because they were bored. One of the guys worked for the Astros. They said ‘hey, we just wanted to see how you were doing’.”
So far, Sohlden hasn’t had to move any of his cards, comics or other memorabilia out of the shop. “You just try to keep everything off the floor. Even if a few inches of water get in, you can deal with it. I have display cases that are a couple of feet up.”
He said business may suffer, though, because of the long recovery period that’s facing the entire area.
“If people have spare time and money, they’re going to be busy fixing their roof or repairing and remodeling. They won’t be buying cards.”