Alief area businesses rebound thanks to 'Houston West Strong' movement

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- An Alief designer is back in business after Hurricane Harvey, and it's all thanks to her community.

Claudia Gutierrez has always loved working from home, and her customers have always loved the personal touch she adds to her colorful handbags and accessories.

But when Harvey destroyed her home, it meant her business was gone, too.

"Water was up to our knees, then up to our waist, and everything was lost," she explained. "We had to save ourselves."

The family was rescued from their rooftop.

"The stranger, I hugged so happily, because he really saved our lives," Gutierrez said. "It was the whole community trying to help out."

People from all over the country started calling the Houston West Chamber of Commerce.

"We were able to identify five chamber members that were severely impacted, Claudia G being one of them, and they worked out some financials," explained chamber president and CEO, Jeannie Bollinger.

The chamber created a movement called "Houston West Strong," teaming up businesses that survived Harvey with those that didn't.

Thanks to help from other entrepreneurs, Gutierrez has been able to move into a new home and start up her business all over again.

"Two years, but this is the work of the two hardest years of my life, but also the most fulfilling years of my life," Gutierrez said.

You can find her handbags and accessories at her Claudia G Collection website.

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