Galveston Yard Owner Rebuilds After Hurricane Ike

Imagine returning to your lumberyard after a vacation in Europe and discovering your headquarters had taken on six feet of water, storage sheds lost their roofs, lumber was scattered across neighbors' lots, and all your forklifts and pickup trucks were destroyed. That's the scene that faced Miguel Pompa, co-owner of Ideal Lumber Co. in Galveston, Texas, and the subject of the "My Yardsticks" feature in ProSales' October issue. He came home several days after Hurricane Ike struck his barrier island community.

Miguel Pompa Photo: Robie Capps Photography "We lost pretty much everything as far as the store was concerned: all the hardware and paint, plus the office area," Pompa said in an interview Oct. 2. "You can imagine lumber scattered as far as you can see, like matchsticks. We had a building 50 feet long, and it got picked up and blown over. ... We have to really gut the place."

But Pompa and partner John Parker haven't quit. In fact, they started selling materials even before electricity was restored and replacement computers arrived. "It's old fashioned, cigar-box stuff right now," Pompa says. "We've actually sold quite a bit."

Aside from cleaning up the yard and recovering lumber that had been blown away, Pompa also has been scrambling to replace the four forklifts and a pickup truck that Ike destroyed. Trucks capable of hauling stuff are in such demand in East Texas that Pompa had to go to more than 200 miles, to Austin, before he could find one. Boise Cascade loaned a generator, and neighbors are bringing in food. That's important, because Pompa said that he hasn't taken a day off in close to three weeks.

As of press time, Pompa was still waiting to get his flood insurance payment. Just weeks before Ike, Pompa and his partner decided to stick with $400,000 worth of coverage rather than raise it, and he says suppliers are extending the time he needs to pay his bills.

"It crossed our minds at le ast once or twice [to give up] because it looked like an impossible task," he says. "But it's doable. What we're looking at doing is starting all over again, buying everything now. And being as busy as we'll be, we think it'll help pay the bills."

–Craig Webb