tropical storm harvey
A satellite image of Tropical Storm Harvey (Image courtesy Wikipedia/U.S. Navy)

Decorated Apparel Industry Grapples with Tropical Storm Harvey


HOUSTON—Texas continues to battle a fierce weather event as Tropical Storm Harvey bears down on the greater Houston area and begins to spill over into parts of Louisiana. The storm, which made landfall Aug. 25 as a Category 4 Hurricane, has already yielded rainfall upwards of 49 inches in some areas, a national record, according to The Weather Channel.

Phil Wanzong, product manager with Exile Technologies, says his company closed offices due to the storm and notes the challenging conditions he and his fellow residents face.

“I believe most of my colleagues are okay,” states Wanzong. “We are pretty close to taking on water and the only way out of my neighborhood is by boat.”

Similarly, GSG reports from Dallas that the Houston branch is currently closed while the company focuses on the safety of its staff in the area. While the office is closed, Nicole Cocco, graphic designer with GSG says that the company is still making efforts to take all phone calls from customers. As of Aug. 28, the Houston branch is still unscathed by the rising waters, but roads to the facility are flooded.

In Katy, Texas, BAW Athletic Wear continues to ride out the storm. 

“All BAW employees are accounted for and safe, that was our main concern,” states Joe Lee, national account manager for BAW Athletic Wear, adding that as of Aug. 28, the company is still operational. 

Lee notes the extreme difficulty presented by the flood to ship goods out of the region. Because of the impassable roads and disabled shipping hubs, the two closest Texas cities providing nationwide shipping options are Dallas and College Station. 

At JDS Industries, Mike May, chief operations officer, says right now the long-term effects of the storm remain to be seen. While the JDS Houston warehouse is closed as the company waits out the storm, May explains that the company has contingency plans.

“We are shipping to our Houston customers from Dallas and our other warehouses,” states May. “We expect that it has and will impact several of our customers. The JDS philosophy is to do everything we can to help our customers through this difficult time. Our hearts go out to all affected by this terrible event.”

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Flooded streets in Houston. (Image courtesy Kati Sportcap & Bag)

While companies across the board focus on the safety and security of staff during the storm, Kati Sportcap & Bag has also reached out to the local community. Danny Spier, co-owner of Kati says the scope of the damage compelled him to act.

“It is unreal,” states Spier, adding that he’s witnessed water filling the streets and has made efforts to join in on salvage and recovery efforts.

Spier says the company is also coordinating with Kansas-based Sportsman Cap & Bag to fulfill orders in the interim.

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A local resident braving the high waters. (Image courtesy Kati Sportcap & Bag) 

On the northwest end of the city, Jane Swanzy, owner and founder of decorated apparel providers Swan Threads, says she’s keeping a watchful eye on the weather but continues to forge ahead with her work. Past experiences, she points out, keep her prepared.

“We got a little bit of water in yesterday but it is all gone now,” says Swanzy. “I keep almost everything in plastic tubs so it is easy to put them up high and not have to worry.”

The impact of the storm continues to widen in scope. As of Aug. 29, Al Jazeera reports two dams in the Houston area overflowing, as well as breaches in various levees around the region.

This is an ongoing event. Printwear will update this story with details from voices around the industry as we receive more information. 

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