Alley Theatre Sues Insurer Over Tropical Storm Allison Damage

News   Alley Theatre Sues Insurer Over Tropical Storm Allison Damage When Tropical Storm Allison arrived in Houston June 9 and 10, 2001, the deluge left three feet of rain in some places and $2 billion dollars worth of damage. The Alley Theatre, along with other performing arts venues in the city, was hit hard by water that rushed into Houston's underground tunnel system, submerging the lower two floors of the Tony Award-winning company's space.

When Tropical Storm Allison arrived in Houston June 9 and 10, 2001, the deluge left three feet of rain in some places and $2 billion dollars worth of damage. The Alley Theatre, along with other performing arts venues in the city, was hit hard by water that rushed into Houston's underground tunnel system, submerging the lower two floors of the Tony Award-winning company's space.

As of May 23, 2002, the Alley Theatre has not yet received the $6.5 million they feel they are owed by the theatre's insurer, Gulf Insurance of Dallas. The Alley has decided to take legal action.

In a released statement, Alley Theatre managing director Paul Tetreault said, "For almost a year, we've been trying to communicate to Gulf Insurance of Dallas that the poicy we have is all-inclusive and therefore, since this unusual loss is not excluded in our policy, we argue that it is a covered loss...We have investigated every means available for recovery. We see no other alternative than to file this lawsuit as a finale effort."

Unfortunately for the Alley, not only were their costume, scene and props departments located below ground, but so was the company's second space, the Neuhaus Arena Stage. At the time of the flooding, the Neuhaus was home to the world premiere of Horton Foote's The Carpetbagger's Children. The 296-seat theatre was rendered unusable, forcing the Alley to relocate the production to Stages Repertory Theatre June 12, after cancelling only two performances.

The Alley's Large Stage production, The Devil's Disciple, was cancelled completely as was the first of two summer shows, Death on the Nile. The second summer drama, The Woman in Black, began a belated run July 20. The Large Stage was able to officially reopen in August, 2001 with the first production of the 2001-02 season, The Glass Menagerie starring Elizabeth Ashley and Robert Sella. The restored Neuhaus, complete with a larger lobby, more bathrooms, a new lighting system and new thrust stage capabilities, debuted Jan. 23, 2002 with a production of Of Mice and Men.

— By Christine Ehren