AUSTIN, Texas - Earlier this month, two Black-owned businesses burned in an early morning fire. The Austin Fire Department is still investigating but one of the owners says recovering is just now truly beginning.
COVID-19 caused many businesses in East Austin to temporarily close. The owner of Altatudes says June 15th was her scheduled reopening date but that came to a screeching halt earlier this month.
There are many things that go into owning a business, and Alta Alexander says she prides herself on always giving love. “I got a call from my business neighbor saying at the time we were being looted and fire was set to our businesses," she said. "I got here and water was covered on the floor. Everything else covered with smoke.”
This is why waiting for results from the Austin Fire Department has been frustrating.
“I’m feeling extremely unsettled that I don’t know the cause because it may happen again and that’s always lurking in the back of my mind I don’t know what happened so if it’s someone or it’s something it may happen again," Alexander said. "Whatever it is we need to know so we know how to best move forward. And be protective of ourselves and our business.”
On Tuesday AFD said they’re still investigating. Right now Alexander says she’s working with her own insurance company, the landlord’s and her business neighbor’s, waiting for money to kick in.
“It’s just a lot of smaller detail things that you don’t really anticipate. If you look on the floors this would usually be pristine now of course it’s filthy. It has to be uprooted because there could possibly be mold underneath there is definitely moisture that is behind the baseboards. It’s a complete redo that has to be done at this juncture.”
Altatudes opened a couple of years ago in East Austin, selling high-end merchandise, known for “an exalted state of style”. All the clothes inside before the morning June 1st are a total loss and repairs are just now slowly getting off the ground.
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“The support has been heartwarming," says Alexander, who adds that the silver lining has always been the community. In fact, mid-interview, a business owner she met in a coffee shop dropped off some masks, and smudge sticks to clear out all negative energy.
Alexander says she’s anxiously waiting for her doors to be reopened soon and is praying this never happens again.
Alexander says she’s started a separate GoFundMe while she’s waiting for Insurance money to kick in to help ends meet.
Funds can also be donated through her PayPal account.