It was a quiet re-opening. In the early hours Wednesday, Lynn and Carol Emerson of Bridge City waited for the first customer to come through the door after being shut down 66 days since Hurricane Ike. Finally, customers started to trickle back in and ‘The Store’ was back in business.

The complex includes ‘Bridge City Lube’ owned by the Emerson’s son Michael, 49, who lives in Nederland. For 18 years the family has run a tight ship on the corner of Farm Roads 1442 and 408.

Where else does an oil change get a patron a free car wash. The convenience store, always clean and upper scale, offered Valero gas and diesel in a dozen bays beneath a covered canopy. A pizza parlor and sandwich deli was inside. The location was popular and successful. 

Getting the doors back open after Hurricane Ike was one thing. As for the return of business to pre-Ike levels the Emersons are optimistically concerned. “The store get’s pretty quiet after about 7 p.m.,” said Lynn Emerson, “It’s going to take some time before things are like they were.”

Emerson was a pioneer in the convenience store business in Bridge City. He opened his first store, Lynn’s Sak-N-Pak on Texas Avenue in 1964. He opened ‘The Store’ in 1989. 

Like most local businesses, the store and lube shop was insured but not for flood. The storm surge on the morning of Sept. 13 engulfed the location damaging fuel pumps, collapsing the glass store front and tossing the contents. But the Emersons were stunned to find that the 800-square-foot sub-level bay of the lube shop was topped off by 64,000 gallons of flood water.

The job of removing it and repairing the damage to both businesses fell on the family at a cost of more than $200,000 with much more left to be done. Emerson estimates that $50,000 in inventory was ruined. But worse, in the days proceeding Hurricane Ike the establishment filled the three 8,000-gallon underground fuel tanks when the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded was $3.84. “We are losing about $2 a gallon now on 24,000 gallons of fuel,” Emerson said. They have applied for an emergency SBA loan.

“We’ve still got a lot of things to do and we’re waiting on vendors on some items,” he said, “But we’re back in business. We’re all safe and have a lot of reason to be grateful.”

Lynn and Carol Emerson plan to spend Thanksgiving at the home of their daughter Tammy Ballard, 46, a school teacher at Hatton Elementary.