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Central Texas economy gets 'hurricane bump'

Posted at 6:17 PM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 21:16:57-04

If you live on the coast, you already know the downside to hurricanes- the wind damage, the flooding, and life without electricity for days.

That's why folks flee to safe havens like Central Texas, which always opens its welcoming arms. That warm welcome is also rewarded with a little economic boost.

Nobody likes profiting from a disaster, but most evacuees tend to treat these trips like a little vacation. They get a hotel room, eat out at local restaurants, and then return home.

Most times it's good for them, and it's definitely good for Central Texas.

Chip and Joanna would probably rather I didn't tell you this but now's the best time to visit Magnolia Table without a wait, unless there's a hurricane on the coast.

Lots of folks fleeing the storm chose Central Texas to shelter, with many more heading to Waco, just like Delores Peralta.

"Well, I evacuated with my friend JC and evacuated from the unforeseen Category 4 hurricane that hit Beaumont," she explained.

If you have to get away, you might as well get away to a place with neat things to do like shopping and other attractions.

It all puts money in local pockets.

"We had a good day yesterday so I assume that's across the board but yeah, we welcome anybody that needs shelter," said Russell Christian of the Findery

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as a "hurricane bump" says economist Ray Perryman.

"Normally it's not a huge number that has a big impact on the economy, but nonetheless it can have some measurable effects on areas that basically become the refuge for folks who are fleeing," he explained.

How many people did Waco alone host?

"Just this morning we probably met a couple hundred for sure," said David Ridley of Waco Tours.

The Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates at least 1,000 people came to town.

Ridley had a deal for each and every one.

"We've got several families on our tours because they're looking for something to do while they're in Waco on our van and our boa,t and we're givin' 'em a discount!" he said.

Each of those people spend a few dollars here, a few dollars there, breathing a little life into our COVID-19 weary economy.

"It is nice to have the influx of business, especially our servers and our bartenders really appreciate it," said Marc Shaw of Bubba's 33.

Better tips mean better income. It wasn't so much an evacuation for Delores Peralta. It was an adventure.

"It is a plus bonus. I'm very happy to be here... it's a hurrication!" she said.

Dr. Perryman says even some of the heavily damaged areas on the coast could see an economic benefit as money from insurance and the government floods in to help rebuild, often times stronger than before.