Tag Archives: Rockport Texas

In 2018, Harvey Recovery Still A Long Road For Rockport

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.


Happy New Year! But…

Are you READY?

Recently, I had the esteemed pleasure of once again appearing on Houston Matters for a special edition of their Good, Bad and Ugly  Hosted by Craig Cohen, fellow panelists Natalie Arceneaux, Joe Holley and myself took part in which we reflected on the many events of the year.  It was a wonderful discussion.

In Case You Missed It you can listen here.


Our first realization is one with which you can probably identify.  With so many twists and turns endured in 2017, it almost feels like we’ve been through several years since our last flip of the calendar.  The drama and trauma, whether from Washington, from Austin or elsewhere, has been nearly non-stop.

A big contributor to that is from the many natural disasters.  From earthquakes to hurricanes, fires and historic floods, nature has made itself known to the Americas in 2017.  The local effects of Hurricane Harvey might not always seem apparent at a quick glance, but if you stop and speak to just a few Houstonians, one is quick to realize that we are not yet out of the woods.

Not so for our smaller neighbors like Dickinson, Rockport, Port Arthur and Port Aransas.  Clean-up may be getting done, but that’s a far cry from economic and financial sustainability.  As Joe Holley says mentioned, much of our towns along the Texas Gulf Coast  depend on a healthy stream of tourists to make a living, and the lack the resources or attention that is placed on a national epicenter like Houston.  As taxpaying Texans and Americans, they are waiting and hoping for help from the government they’ve invested in all of their lives.  As we roll into the New Year, we cannot forget about them.

Which is something of a supreme irony when juxtaposed against United States’ current political climate and those occupying the seats of power.  Even as Trump and the Republicans tried each day to undermine the importance of a Federal Government, mother nature served as a constant reminder that certain needs for the American People can only be addressed when our collective resources are utilized.  At least we hope they’ll be utilized for those affected by disaster next year.

But after months of trying to take away healthcare, then months of trying to, still take away healthcare, the GOP was finally able to inflict some serious damage to the Affordable Care Act, courtesy of the only major piece of legislation they managed to pass.    As Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner reports, the damage done in 2017 is just the beginning…

In the wake of the Republican victory on tax reform, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said that his priorities for 2018 will be welfare reform, healthcare, and entitlement reform.


“I don’t think the health care issue is done,” Ryan said in an interview with the Weekly Standard‘s Stephen Hayes. He suggested revisiting the Obamacare issue as early as January. “At the end of the day, we’ve got to go after the root cause—health care inflation and entitlements. Welfare reform is going to be our next lift.”

Though conceding that Trump is opposed to tackling Medicare and Social Security, he said he would continue to push on the issue. “We’re never going to give up on entitlement reform and the things we need to do to get the debt under control,” Ryan said. “With one more reconciliation, I think we have a pretty good shot at getting some of these things done.”

Which, again, for Speaker Ryan is highly ironic.  Lest one forgets, every single member of Congress that is sent to Washington to take these votes is not only paid by the government, but they receive excellent government healthcare, retirement and pension benefits courtesy of us, the American taxpayers.  They write the laws, decide what benefits they want, and we get to pay for them.  Now that’s entitlement if I ever heard the term.

For the rest of us, he’s concerned that there just isn’t enough money in the budget to support such critical needs for Americans.  He and Republicans should be concerned… after all, they are the ones who voted to give away money which could be used to sustain and improve those same programs.  If the Speaker is so concerned about funding for vital programs, maybe he should set an example and be the first in line to donate his salary and his healthcare to the cause.   Don’t take away from others what you can’t seem to do without yourself.

Yet another reason why the upcoming 2018 Elections are going to be so important.  The decisions made by the current Congress and Presidency have already set the American People back, this year offers our a major opportunity to change direction.

So yeah… I know holiday recovery is in full effect.  Please enjoy and celebrate that you have seen 2018.  That is wonderful, and important!!   But this is not the time to ease into the important work that lies ahead.

Happy New Year.  But… Don’t Get Ready.