EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of an occasional series of stories on how Hurricane Harvey and the ensuing river floods have effected local businesses.
The effects of Hurricane Harvey and the river floods have hit Wharton County and its businesses hard. As the recovery process is under way, some businesses have decided not to re-open after the devastation.
One of those businesses is the one of Wharton’s most eye-catching historic locations, the Tee Pee Motel.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think we are going to be able to open the motel back up,” said Tee Pee Motel Owner Bryon Woods.
Woods said that the motel wasn’t the most profitable business on the lot and that the RV Park that he owns located behind the Tee Pee Motel was the main source of revenue from that property.
The motel rooms were originally designed in 1942 by George and Toppie Belcher but construction was delayed until 1947 because of World War II.
Once a destination location for travelers, the motel began a slow slide as the highway system routed traffic away from the Tee Pee’s location. It closed in the 1980s and remained that way until it was purchased by Woods, who refurbished and reopened the motel.
A lottery winner, Woods bought the motel at the urging of his wife Barbara, a Wharton County native. She said that as a little girl, she’d always wanted to stay in one of the rooms but never had the opportunity.
When Bryon pointed out it was closed, Barbara reportedly pointed out that it was for sale.
Woods says that the RV Park will stay open and management will keep their jobs, but staff that tended to the Tee Pee Motel will have to find work elsewhere.
“Some 176 Wharton businesses were damaged from Hurricane Harvey, striking at the heart of our economy and jobs,” Ron Sanders Executive Director of The chamber of Commerce, wrote in a column last week. “That loss, alone, could amount to $58 million.”
One store, Palais Royal, located in East Gate Plaza, is temporarily closed because of flood damage. Palais Royal, along with Stage Stores, is offering a 50 percent discount to residents affected by Hurricane Harvey when you apply for Stage Store Disaster Assistance Program.
Those interested can apply at the El Campo store, 1201 N. Mechanic St. in El Campo. The Wharton store has plans to open back up around the holidays, and will make sure to keep residents updated about their return.
Another business, InsuranceNet, has temporarily relocated until construction is finished. InsuranceNet’s temporary location is at 313 W. Milam St.