LA GRANGE, Texas— Jim Arnold can’t wipe the smile off his face.
More than a year and a half since Hurricane Harvey sent four feet of floodwater into the small Texas town of La Grange in August 2017, Arnold’s business re-opened to the public.
“A majority of the facility was destroyed,“ Arnold lamented. “It has taken a while because as you can only imagine with the city going underwater like that, there were back-ups and everything from permitting to actual people that could do the work, and it just took us a long time to get back here.“
“I told somebody the other day we needed a facelift, we just didn’t want to go about it this way,“ he chuckled.
A-Line Auto Parts and Outdoor Power, which exists in nearly 30 Central Texas locations as a subsidiary of Arnold Oil Company, thrives in rural communities, said Arnold, who is the owner.
“We are really happy to be back in La Grange,“ Arnold said. “We’ve added a lot of categories that we didn’t have in the store originally, and I think the future is extremely bright.“
Arnold said the storm caused approximately $500,000 in damage to the building — including loss of inventory.
“I really try not to look at that because it makes me depressed,“ he said. The company rebuilt without state or federal funding, a decision he said was made in part because of government red tape and partially because Arnold felt other people needed the assistance more. He was forced to cut some of the employees loose as well.
The new store opens with a completely new interior, a line of outdoor power equipment and auto supplies. At the grand re-opening, the company hosted a raffle to benefit first-responders in the area.
“We had a mess to clean up but we could go home,“ Arnold said, noting some people in the community lost much of their possessions. “Some of these people didn’t have a choice, and it was really rough but that’s what Texas is about. We bounce back, we help each other and we get back to where we are and that’s the way we’ve always been.“
Hurricane Harvey caused upwards of $125 billion in damage to the Coastal Bend, Central Texas and greater Houston area. In January, the Texas General Land Office estimated there was still an un-met need of $86 billion.