HOUSTON -- It’s been a tough week for some weekend guests at the Houston Omni. At least 30 of their vehicles were flooded after they were parked by valets.
The victims say neither the valet company, nor the Omni, has discussed compensation. Many are now stuck finding alternative ways to get around.
“It’s not only the fact that we lost our vehicles, it’s the fact that many of us work and many of us use our cars to make a living and now we’re in this predicament where we’re not even able to get around town,” said Cesar Espinoza, whose car was flooded.
He said Towne Park Valet Services, which parked the cars, urged him to file a claim with his insurance company. But he said his agent refused to pay for the damage.
“In my case I did not have full coverage on my car because my car was paid for,” Espinoza said. “I only had liability.”
Espinoza and others had been attending an annual gala Friday night for the National Hispanic Association of Professionals.
There was heavy rain and many guests had their cars parked by valets to stay dry.
But the ground they were parked on near a bayou flooded.
Gabriela Elizondo Ferrel said she knew there was trouble when her vehicle was returned and the engine was loud. She said the carpeting was also wet.
“I feel kind of bad because someone knew that my vehicle was wet and they didn’t tell me,” Ferrel said.
Many guests paid for cabs home and rooms at the hotel out of pocket. Gala organizer Jesse Rodriguez said staff did not seem prepared to handle the situation.
He doubts the group will return to the hotel for another event.
He said his car was towed with the others to a garage on the hotel’s property. He does not know how soon he might get it back and he does not rule out filing a class action lawsuit.
KHOU 11 News reached out to national offices for the valet company. Requests for comment Tuesday were not returned.
The Omni released the following statement on Wednesday:
"As you may have heard, the parking garage at Omni Houston Galleria Hotel unexpectedly flooded over the weekend due to extreme weather, rainfall and overflow from the bayou. Several cars were parked in the garage operated by Towne Park, our valet company and were flood damaged. Our hearts and prayers go to everyone impacted by the storms Friday night. For those of us that have been through losses due to storms, we certainly have understanding and empathy for the time it takes to manage the recovery process that follows. We are working closely on a daily basis with Towne Park to find resolution for all affected individuals.
We want all to know, especially our loyal and valued guests, that we have already taken steps to avoid a similar situation from happening in the future. We are maintaining close communication with the City Authorities responsible for the bayou drainage so an early warning can be issued when flood gates are opened as the rapid flooding that occurred was unprecedented for the property. We have been working with the valet company to better understand this first-time event that occurred Friday night and adjust the operating procedures.
Thank you for patience as we work through these resolutions."