I want to take this opportunity to reassure each and every one of you that the 5th Annual Houston Book, Postcard & Paper Fair scheduled for Oct. 25-26 WILL GO ON AS SCHEDULED. I have no plans to modify the dates or location of the show. I want to cover two major items relating to the show. First, I want to summarize the damage done to the area so you’re not just getting the media’s view. Second, I want to summarize things relating specifically to the show such as the venue, hotel/motel rooms, gasoline, etc.
Hurricane Ike did varying degrees of damage to the entire Houston metropolitan area but the news media has a way of focusing on the worst areas and then painting a dire image of the entire region as a whole. Please get a map of the metro Houston area and familiarize yourself before reading on.
In summary, here is what I have found out about the damage done:
HOUSTON AND SUBURBS:
The vast majority of Houston and suburbs to the Southwest, West, Northwest, North, and Northeast have experienced power and phone outages as well as minor to moderate wind damage. Think in terms of trees down, lost shingles off of roofs, and small debris all over the place. I’ve driven around Sugar Land, Stafford, and parts of Southwest Houston and I have seen things like this. I anticipate that most of metro Houston’s power and phone grids will be restored well within 2 weeks. Debris should be hauled away for the most part within that timeframe as well.
Flooding in the metro area was minor from what I saw/read about and was NOTHING like Allison 7 years ago. Bottom line, this was NOT like Allison or Katrina so PLEASE DON’T WORRY. Heck, the Galleria is open and people are shopping for things other than relief supplies. The freeways are almost all open. The airports are open. Downtown will likely be back up and running by next Monday even though it and the Texas Medical Center NEVER lost power.
THE SOUTHEAST SIDE:
These folks saw higher winds and experienced moderate wind damage along with prolonged power and phone outages and even some water outages. Places like Pasadena, La Porte, Kemah, Seabrook, La Marque, Texas City, Webster, and Clear Lake all took bigger hits. What I’ve been hearing/reading leads me to believe that most homes inland within these communities suffered varying degrees of damage but most are structurally intact and can/should be fixed within 2-3 months. Those closer to the water obviously fared worse.
I’ve read that Centerpoint Energy expects to have these folks plugged back in with 3 weeks, in some cases 4. Those homes that flooded due to storm surge were right on the water or very close to Clear Lake and its tributaries. Big parts of the cities I mentioned above DID NOT FLOOD. Just about every area to the west of I-45 DID NOT FLOOD.
GALVESTON AND THE COAST:
Without a doubt, this is the area that suffered the most and will take the longest to fix. Galveston DID NOT get the record storm surge everyone was worried about BUT there was moderate to heavy damage to PARTS of the island. The East end (behind the seawall) didn’t blow away or burn down as the media would have you believe. Yes, there were between 7-10 fires but they didn’t cause 100 blocks worth of damage. Yes, there was flooding but I’ve spoken to two friends of mine that live in Galveston who reported only 6-8 feet of water. I say “only” because most homes behind the seawall are raised up an additional 6-8 feet to accommodate this sort of thing.
I read that 80%-90% of all structures in the city of Galveston are still standing and habitable based on re-connected power, water, and gas. The reports indicate 3-4 weeks for most of that to come back online but it could be sooner. We’ve had thousands of electric, cable, gas, and water crews converging down there to fix it all so that may speed things up.
Now for the FAQ:
SO WHATS THE BOTTOM LINE:
What I foresee is a period of time lasting about 2 weeks that will have most of Houston back online and functioning normally. Within 4 weeks, just about everyone except the hardest hit areas by the water should be good to go. Yes homes and businesses were damaged BUT the VAST MAJORITY of the metro area was high and dry and will be fixed up well in time for the show.
Those people displaced by the storm make up a measurable fraction of the entire region’s population BUT this is nothing like Katrina. Many of these folks are just waiting for basic services to be restored to their homes and then they will likely go back. Many are simply staying home and waiting for the lights to come back on. Most of the large scale restoration crews will be gone by mid-October freeing up even more space. Yes, there will be some hotels/motels designated as storm evacuee locations but I firmly believe we will have occupancy by the time the show hits.
DO YOU REALLY THINK PEOPLE ARE GOING TO WANT TO COME TO THIS SHOW SO SOON AFTER A STORM:
Yes. I recall reading stories about the aftermath of Katrina (much worse than this storm) and how locals in New Orleans were aching for something to do. Since the vast majority of the metro area will be up and running well before the show, I can only assume that people will be going through their daily and weekend routines and looking for something to do here.
Folding up the show would be a serious mistake in my opinion. It would be sending the wrong message to collectors in and around the metro area and region that have been planning to come. I’ve personally invested a lot of time and money into this effort and I want to see it succeed. I don’t think we’ll be “forcing the issue” or “doing this too soon” in light of the storm. Had this been a Category 5 storm like Katrina, I would have an entirely different attitude.
WHAT ABOUT THE STAFFORD CENTRE:
I spoke at length with my representative at the Stafford Centre. They suffered damage to trees and signage on the property but no roof or water damage. They may be hosting a mobile FEMA claims and distribution center for a few weeks but they will not be used as a shelter. They believe that our event will not have any problem whatsoever and they are looking forward to seeing us next month.
WHAT ABOUT HOTEL ROOMS:
I spent 2 hours driving around the Stafford Centre as well as to many nearby hotels and motels. A couple of the extended stay places are stating they may be booked for some time BUT there are just as many others who say they will have rooms available by late October. Today, I have posted the Hotels/Motels page for the show online. The link is www.houstonshow.com/hfhotel.html. I want to refer everyone to this page so that you can begin the booking process NOW. DO NOT WAIT!
I do have one PREFERRED motel that I want everyone to try first. It is the Super 8 at 12845 Murphy Road in Stafford (less than 2 miles from the Stafford Centre). Their local number is (281) 568-1214. They have agreed to give us a show rate of $59.99 for a one bed room and $69.99 for a 2 bed room BUT YOU MUST MENTION THE SHOW WHEN BOOKING! They currently have the AT&T restoration crews staying there but they will take reservations for late October and they believe the AT&T folks will scale back dramatically by the beginning of October as the need for their services is alleviated. Also, they are NOT on the list of FEMA hotels for evacuees so they will likely NOT be getting those folks en masse.
I have several other hotels/motels listed along with their local and 800 numbers on this webpage BUT I STRONGLY SUGGEST that you call the local number at some point to re-confirm your reservation. As a suggestion, you may want to try booking the rooms online first through corporate or discount websites, then call the local number and verify that you’re in their system.
WHAT ABOUT GASOLINE, FOOD, GROCERIES:
As of today, most of the gas stations within a 4 mile radius of the Stafford Centre are working and have had fuel deliveries. If it is like this today, it should be fine in 6 weeks time. Many restaurants are opening as soon as the power comes back on. They should all be up and running in 6 weeks. Wal Mart and Kroger opened 2 days ago so I think that speaks for itself.
HAVE YOU LOST ANY DEALERS YET:
No. I have spoken with a few of my local dealers who all say they still plan to do the show. They agree that things should be well on the mend by the time the show hits.
I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU SAY, I AM NOT WILLING TO RISK THIS AND I WANT MY MONEY BACK. WHAT DO I DO:
Per the show contract, you have until October 1 to submit a formal written request of cancellation to me in order to receive a full refund (email or snail mail will do). After October 1, your money will only be refunded to you if I can sell your space to someone else. If you’re seriously considering canceling, I hope you will take a deep breath, allow a week to pass, and reconsider your decision.
ARE YOU SURE YOU’RE NOT CLINICALLY INSANE, DELUSIONAL, OR JUST AFRAID TO LOSE MONEY BY CLOSING THE SHOW:
I’m perfectly fine. My family is fine. My friends are all accounted for, even the ones that live in Galveston. The vast majority of my collectors live well enough away from the coast and should be fine. Everything I have come to know about this city, metro area, and region leads me to believe we will be fine within a few weeks time. Why push the panic button?
Believe me, I know what a risk this is but I think it is small in comparison to not having the show at all. Do you honestly think I would want to inflict damage upon my credibility as a promoter? If I knew the entire 5.5 million person metro area was devastated beyond repair, I WOULD NOT go forward with this show. As it stands today, I firmly believe we will be back on our feet well in time for the show.
I HAVE OTHER QUESTIONS TO ASK YOU:
Contact me at 281-386-7998 (cell) or 281-494-4604 (home), or email me at DMPHouston@peoplepc.com.
When all is said and done, I sincerely hope you will continue to support this show whole-heartedly. I want to make this work more than you could ever imagine. The show is still a "GO"!