Hurricane Harvey damages seafood retailers, restaurants
Some Texas retailers and restaurants that sell seafood are temporarily closed down – and many will have to go without providing seafood caught in the Gulf of Mexico for some time – due to damage caused by Hurricane Harvey.
The Category 4 hurricane is the cause of 21 deaths, extreme flooding in Houston and other areas, and billions of dollars in damage to homes and businesses. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke said she expects a “many-year recovery” in Texas, Fox News reported.
Three H-E-B in stores in Houston were severely damaged as a result of flooding, and could take months to reopen, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Many restaurants throughout Texas – and the U.S. – are currently unable to receive seafood shipments from damaged Texas ports, and from Louisiana. For example, Austin, Texas-based Quality Seafood Market, a wholesaler, retailer and restaurant, said on its website that it will temporarily have to stop offering Gulf oysters for its happy-hour special “until the Gulf recovers from Hurricane Harvey.”
In addition, the Houston warehouse that stores Quality Seafood’s shrimp is under water, Quality owner Carol Huntsberger told Austin360.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those effected by Hurricane Harvey. This can affect our Gulf seafood supply, so please call ahead to check on availability on any seafood coming out of the Gulf (e.g. shrimp, oysters, black drum, etc.),” a statement posted on Quality’s website said.
With the storm now drenching Louisiana, that state’s Department of Health announced Tuesday it has closed all oyster harvest in the state's shellfish-growing areas. The agency did not say when the oyster harvest would resume.
"The rainfall creates runoff and can push contaminants into the areas," LDH spokesperson Samantha Hartmann, told NOLA.com. "It's precautionary; we haven't found anything, but the conditions are right for getting contaminants and bacteria into the oysters."
Meanwhile, major shrimp processor Galveston Shrimp Company, owned by Pacific Seafood Group, was one of the more fortunate seafood processors in Texas.
“The processing plant and cold storage did not sustain any damage and there was no loss of product,” Galveston Shrimp CEO Nello Cassarino told SeafoodSource.
However, “Some of our team members have been displaced from their homes and have lost their vehicles,” Cassarino said. “Our company is in the process right not in setting up a GoFundMe account to help support those who did not have insurance.”
Along with seafood suppliers and retailers, the U.S. restaurant industry is expected to feel the impacts of Hurricane Harvey.
Financial services firm Canaccord lowered its same-store sales estimate for the restaurant industry in August to a decline of between two and four percent after Harvey – instead of its previous prediction of one or two percent lower sales. About two percent of all U.S. restaurants are located in the Houston area, according to Canaccord.
“We expect the month to be significantly impacted in the final week by the ongoing record rainfall and flooding in south Texas and Louisiana from Hurricane Harvey,” Lynne Collier, an analyst at Canaccord, wrote in a research note Wednesday, CNBC News reported.