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An update on Harvey recovery

Hurricane Harvey Recovery
Alley  staff working hard to clean salvageable
props. Photo by Karin Rabe Vance.

Hurricane Harvey was a very different experience than Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. For Allison, the water in the bayou never crested. It did, however, enter the city underground parking garage and eventually found its way to the tunnels and flooded the Neuhaus Theatre, lobby, and all of the Alley’s production shops located in the basement of the Theatre.

After Allison, submarine doors were installed in the tunnel near the parking garage. We were very confident that these doors would ensure that no water would ever enter the Alley from the tunnel. All the production shops were relocated to a space on top of the parking garage on the 14th and 16th floors.

On Friday, August 25th the submarine doors were closed to the Alley in anticipation of Harvey’s impact. When Harvey hit on August 26th, the submarine doors held, and no water got into the Alley from the garage and tunnel level.

Unfortunately, Harvey was a completely different natural disaster than Allison. The bayou behind the Wortham Theatre crested and water surrounded the Alley Theatre building to a height of roughly five to six feet.

We were very fortunate that the water did not reach the box office entrance level, the Hubbard Theatre nor our lobbies on levels one, two, three, or four. This is where we spent most of our $46.5 million renovation money in 2015. We were very happy that all of that new construction was untouched.

Hurricane Harvey Recovery
Alley  staff working hard to clean salvageable
props. Photo by Karin Rabe Vance.

Neuhaus Theatre

Disaster did strike the Neuhaus Theatre lobby and basement level. The majority of water came in through a fresh air in-take vent located in the Alleyway drive way. This vent has been there since 1968 when the building was built and had never taken on water.

Harvey’s waters crested so high that this in-take vent provided an opening that enabled the flood waters to enter the building unimpeded. The water was so powerful it knocked through a cement block wall and blew open locked doors. When the cement block wall collapsed, it broke a 2-foot fire line that started spewing water out at 150 gallons a minute. About 900,000 gallons of water would come from this source before it was turned off.

The flood water from the bayou would account for 2.8 million gallons of water. The water would reach 10-feet high in the Neuhaus Theatre and lobby and 15-feet high in the basement level. The Alley Theatre below ground was completely flooded.

To give you an idea of how heavy and powerful water is, one cubic foot of water weighs about 62.5 pounds. The Alley took on 500,000 cubic feet of water. That’s over 31,000,000 pounds of water.

To ensure this does not happen again, the Alley has employed the engineering firm Walter P. Moore to do a complete assessment of every location water can enter the building in a flood. They will recommend what the Alley needs to do to ensure that the level below grade will remain dry when the next 500-year storm hits.

We are working to make all the necessary changes to protect the Theatre that we so dearly love. We do not want any future generation to have to deal with the ravages of a storm like this again.

Our insurance company informed us that the Alley only has $7 million in coverage. We estimate the damage to be approximatly $18 million. Because the Alley owns its own building, the difference must be raised in contributed funds. Your help in this area would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your support throughout these challenging times. We shall return to the Hubbard Stage with A Christmas Carol and to the newly refurbished Neuhaus Theatre with Lover, Beloved: An Evening with Carson McCullers