Max Bowl Provides Shelter for Evacuees in Port Arthur, Texas

by Bob Johnson 0

It’s said that disasters bring out the best in people and the worst in people.

Hurricane Harvey has been a prime example. While there were reports of looting in Houston, prompting a curfew to be enacted, there also were countless reports of good Samaritans aiding relief workers in transporting people all over southeast Texas out of harm’s way.

While the death toll is expected to rise as the flood waters subside, there’s no question things could have been much worse had not so-called “regular citizens” pitched in to help their fellow human beings.

In hard-hit Port Arthur, Texas, Max Bowl had closed for the night on Tuesday when General Manager Jeff Tolliver got a call from the local fire department, asking if he could turn off the fire alarm. The reason: The center was needed to house displaced residents, who had been driven from their homes by the flood waters, and the fire department had popped the lock to get in.

Max Bowl sits on higher ground than the area surrounding it, and was one of the few places in the entire city that had not flooded.

Over the next several hours, around 200 people were brought to the center by boat and various other forms of transportation. Although no cots were available, the center’s concourse was transformed into a place where people could sit or lay down, protected from the rain and flood waters.

Berton Jay Fountain, Betallion Chief for the Port Arthur Fire Department, told CNN that Max Bowl was being used as a safe haven until the people there could be re-located to actual evacuation centers.

As the hours went by, upwards of 1,000 people came through Max Bowl’s doors. A few staff members who lived nearby and could get to the center safely returned and began cooking food for those who needed it. People brought their pets with them — dogs, cats and even one monkey.

At one point, the flood waters got dangerously close to Max Bowl’s doors, but ultimately stopped about 6-8 feet short. As of this morning, about 300 people remained at the center, waiting to be re-located to an evacuation center.

Back in Houston and surrounding areas, many bowling centers were closed, waiting for the storm and flooding to subside. No reports of flood damage had been reported to BPAA, although that could change as owners are able to return to evacuated areas.

Reuters reported that five Main Event centers in the Houston area had been closed because of the massive storm, and one suffered extensive damage. Read more about that here:

Of course, the impact on business moving forward is immeasurable. Officials have said it will take years for the region to recover, given the widespread damage to homes and businesses.

The American Red Cross is on the ground in the disaster zone, providing victims with food, clothing, shelter and other assistance. If you’d care to donate to the relief efforts, here’s a direct link to the Hurricane Harvey donation page:


Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson has received more national writing awards than any other bowling writer — close to 70 over the course of his 40-year career. He began at age 16 as a staff writer and then assistant editor for the weekly Pacific Bowler newspaper in his native California, and within three years was writing feature stories for Bowlers Journal. He has written for the magazine ever since, except for a five-year span when he was hired as the founding editor of another magazine. He moved to Chicago in 2000 and spent 13 years in the Windy City, including five as Bowlers Journal’s Editor. In 1975, Johnson received the Robert E. Kennedy Award as California’s top undergraduate high school journalist. Five years earlier, on the lanes, he had shared the Bantam Division Doubles championship in the Orange County Junior Bowling Association Championships. Today, he continues to work full-time for Bowlers Journal as its Senior Editor, to write his popular “Strikes Me” column, and to edit Luby Publishing Inc.’s weekly business-to-business Cyber Report.

BJI Complimentary Preview