In the midst of a heightened news cycle, and almost daily scandals in the realm of politics, it’s often tough to remember what all has occurred in the past few weeks, let alone the time span of an entire year. For most Houstonians, inundated by historic, unprecedented, unimaginable floods from Hurricane Harvey, those weary days are finally beginning to seem like last year’s event as the city recovers and people try to move on.
But for Houston’s many smaller neighbors on the Texas Gulf Coast, Hurricane Harvey is a daily struggle that is just as present in 2018 as it was a few weeks after the storm. As Omar Villafranca of CBS News reports from December 26th, it’s a tough start to the new year for residents of Aransas County…
Harvey made landfall in Rockport with 150 mile per hour winds and a 13 foot storm surge. Nearly 1,500 area families sought federal housing assistance, but 284 still don’t have permanent housing. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a third of Rockport was so badly damaged, it will be impossible to rebuild.
More than three months later, there is still so much debris, the state is having to use a highway median as a collection point. Rockport Mayor Charles “C.J.” Wax says more than 2 million cubic yards have been collected so far, and that is just on the first pass.
Meanwhile, Wax tells CBS News about 70 percent of the town’s businesses are still closed.
“I’ve got an attraction problem, I’ve got a hotel problem, I’ve got a business problem,” Wax said.
It’s that last set of issues that Mayor C.J. Wax mentions which continues to plague the community. With the local economy of so many small towns built largely around tourism and fishing, recovery from a hurricane is challenging cycle. You can’t open for business without customers, but the customers won’t come if you’re not open. Even as residents have banded together to clean up and survive, many are still far from the existence they knew before the storm.
As Mike Probst of The Rockport Pilot shares in an editorial, the community moves forward, even if they’ve yet to move on…
Food, shelter and clothing were the critical needs during the first weeks after the storm. Many were stripped of everything. The basics of life became a harsh reality. Everyone was affected at some level. The outpouring of help was constant. Everywhere one turned there was someone handing out supplies or a free meal.
That period is over, but there are still people who are hurting. Some people have done everything in their power to move forward, but it has been hard. Others don’t have the ability to move forward under their current circumstances and are losing hope. And, there are some who are waiting, and expecting government (at any level) to make them whole.
Our local government entities, state government, nor the federal government is going to make anyone whole again.
It’s simply not going to happen.
Every entity has its role, but the process is slow. Mistakes made today can cost local taxpayers millions of dollars down the line.
Hard decisions are being made and many don’t like that, but that’s the reality in which we now live.
Far from the national spotlight that a city like Houston commands, it’s important to remember our neighbors on the ravaged Texas Coast. And very important that we continue to advocate for government assistance for these communities. Though these brave Texans are faced with a long road, we know they’re going to not only recover, but come back stronger than ever before.
If you’d like to help, there’s lots of great ways to support the community, from donations to volunteering opportunities, or even planning a trip. Find more information by visiting the Rockport-Fulton website.