Some Businesses in Dickinson, Texas, Still Recovering from Harvey

Some Dickinson business owners are getting back on their feet — or trying — after flooding from Hurricane Harvey swamped more than 80 shops, restaurants and offices.

The Galveston County Daily News reports Keith Lilley, owner of two popular Dickinson restaurants, Dickinson Bar-B-Que & Steakhouse and Marais, had severe flooding at both properties.

Within a week after the storm, the restaurant owner was up and running, serving menus from both restaurants out of his new waterfront restaurant, Marais, 2015 FM 517. But next door to Marais, Dickinson Bar-B-Que, which took on more than 3 feet of water, remains closed for renovations.

Across the street, a strip center owned by a local dentist that once housed about five businesses is down to the studs. The dentist is operating in League City for the time being and a tailor who worked there has been working out of her house, Lilley said.

For businesses, getting back in operation can be costly. Lilley estimated he had cut about $200,000 in checks this month for contractor payments and other renovation-related expenses, he said. The expenses have been draining revenues, he said.

“We lost about half a million dollars in revenue the first month, but expenses don’t stop,” Lilley said. “You’re having to spend money at the worst time for it.”

Still, Lilley, who carried flood insurance on both properties and had security cameras in place that documented flooding, considers himself far more fortunate than many in the hard-hit community, he said.

Now, Lilley is one of many business owners seeking a Harvey grant offered by the city’s Economic Development Corp.

The Dickinson Economic Development Corp. announced earlier this month a grant program intended to help small business owners defray some of the costs of rebuilding. The grants stem from local sales taxes the corporation collects, Economic Development Coordinator Angela Forbes said.

The grants are relatively small, compared to the damages businesses face. But the funding is intended to assist businesses recovering, Forbes said.

The corporation identified, through surveys and door-to-door checks, at least 85 Dickinson businesses that were damaged during Hurricane Harvey, Forbes said.

The storm made landfall on Aug. 25 in Rockport about 200 miles south and dumped more than 40 inches of rain over the Houston area in the following days, swelling waterways and flooding thousands of homes and businesses.

Businesses operating in Dickinson are eligible to apply for the grant, regardless of whether or not they’ve received other assistance, such as small business loans or flood insurance payouts, Forbes said.

“The EDC is very interested in working with small business owners to provide any help we possibly can,” Forbes said.

The money can be used for rebuilding, roofing, new windows or entryways, facade repairs or utility work, she said. Other expenses may be taken into consideration, too, she said.

The corporation has allocated about $200,000 for the program, she said.

Many businesses are back up and running, even if places are still under construction, she said. But owners have been dealing with the red tape and hassle of disaster recovery, Forbes said.

“I know for many it’s been a struggle with insurance companies and contractors,” Forbes said. “There’s so much work and so few contractors that people feel they can trust.”

Small businesses can also apply for the city’s Harvey Relief Fund — about $1 million in grants the city is offering from Harvey donations, she said. The city has set aside about 20 percent of the fund for business owners, she said.

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