Following historic hurricanes, pool/spa companies in Houston and Florida are still assessing damage, but it seems they have largely fared well, all things considered.
Within a day or so of their respective storms, most had flexed into recovery mode, where they will remain for the coming weeks or months.
Hit first was Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana, where Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath dropped 40-52 inches of rainfall.
One of the pool/spa professionals hit hardest personally was Michael Miller, president of APSP’s Greater Houston Chapter and owner of Miller Pools in Pasadena, Texas. His home saw extensive flood damage. Despite the fact that he elevated all furniture, personal belongings and favorite vehicles 2 feet, all were ruined.
His company facilities fared okay, as did his staff, he said. That was the case with most companies in contact with him and APSP Houston Executive Secretary Thom Blumenkamp. They heard secondhand accounts of one builder that lost its facilities and a retailer that must rebuild one location.
Many homeowners now can focus on their pools, with professionals performing repairs and replacements, mostly of pumps, heaters, filters and other equipment that were flooded out. The supply chain was slow to pick up at first, Miller said, but things now run smoothly.
While the area will see high demand for repair and replacement, local builders worry about construction. With three major floods hitting in as many years, some homeowners are considering the route Miller plans to take — hiring contractors to raise their homes off the ground. This expensive prospect will likely take income from pool and spa construction. “I think people are ... just not sure where to go right now,” said Blumenthal, also senior designer with Texas Pools in The Woodlands.
But they aren’t going to leave town. At most, some may move to higher ground, possibly costing some service customers. “We’re Texans; we’re strong,” Miller said.
As they acclimate to increased flooding incidents, Floridians are almost casual about Hurricane Irma, another record-breaking storm. “As a native Floridian, of course you don’t want a category five hurricane coming down your street,” said Wendy Parker Barsell, executive director of the Florida Swimming Pool Association. “But everybody knows what to do to prepare and what to do in recovery. And we had plenty of time to get ready.”
The industry is still waiting to hear from those hit hardest in Miami and the Keys, but so far no serious losses were reported farther north. Two weeks after the storm, some remained without power.
For APSP Chairman Jack Manilla, located in Jacksonville, recovery started with commercial clients, who could not afford to lose more operating time than absolutely necessary. That worked well for residential customers, who needed more time to assess and strategize.
“The phone now is ringing quite heavily with new customers seeking help to clean debris out of their pools and get the water back,” said the president/owner of Portofino Pool Services & Outdoor Living.
He said some area builders are dealing with incomplete pools that collapsed or were otherwise damaged.
While pools may not top priority lists for many customers, Miller believes others want their pools up in quick order for a small bit of psychological respite. “They want to get their lives back,” he said. “In my case, having my pool clear and clean and looking pretty again was a very comforting sight — just one little piece of normalcy.”