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‘I’ll Rise Like a Phoenix,’ Says Optician Flooded by Hurricane Harvey

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His shop ‘will be a total loss.’

A.J. Saper hasn’t seen his optical shop, Great Glasses on South Braeswood Boulevard in Houston, TX, in person yet, but he knows things aren’t good.

He saw it on the news when rescuers were evacuating the apartment complex across the street. Much of the region is flooded in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

“It’s a pretty bad situation,” he said. “I have somewhere between 6 and 8 feet of water.”

He added: “I will have a total loss there.”

Saper also owns seven optical shops associated with Harris Health System. He doesn’t know their condition.

What he does know is that he has a significant rebuilding job ahead. At the Braeswood location, which he leases, he anticipates spending $25,000 to $30,000 renovating the interior and replacing equipment. (Saper is experienced with natural disasters — this is the third time the shop has flooded over the past 40 years. But it’s never been this severe.)

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“I just have to think of myself as a phoenix and rise out of the ashes,” he said. “At 71 it’s not as easy as it is in your 50s.”

Still, there are some blessings. Saper has been in contact with his 14 employees, and they’re OK, although four were evacuated.

His house is dry, and it has power.

And as he recovers, he knows he has support in the industry.

“I’ve had phone calls from suppliers wanting to know how I am, and sales reps,” he said.

One supplier has generously offered to help him replenish his inventory.

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“Independents love and respect our vendors,” Saper said, “and they have the same type of rapport with us.”

 

 

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