It’s been over a month since Hurricane Harvey hit Port Aransas, but the town’s wounds are still barely healed. Multiple buildings remain uninhabitable, including the EMS, police, constable, and court building, the parks and recreation building, and the gas department storage building. Roughly 6,000 yards of debris are removed every day by cleanup crews—enough to cover a football field in a 3-foot tall layer of trash.
Thankfully, basic utilities have been restored; residents have access to water, gas, sewer, and electrical services. However, 1 in 10 residents still need tetanus shots. Mosquito fogging is still necessary three times a week ever since mosquitoes descended on the town as soon as the hurricane moved on. Officials are still recovering the 40 or so boats that sank during the storm. Two fishing piers were destroyed as well.
Altogether, officials estimate that the damage to city infrastructure could cost up to $22 million to repair.
What Port Aransas Needs to Recover
Jeffrey Hentz, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Tourism Bureau in Port Aransas, believes that Port Aransas is only on mile 1 of the marathon. There are two major elements needed for the city's full recovery. One, the trash needs to be picked up. Over 136,000 cubic yards of debris has been collected already, and thousands more are picked up every day. Two, tourists need to return. Port Aransas survives on tourism dollars, and there are "zero coming in right now," according to Kelly Owens, a local business owner. Restaurants here and there have begun opening, but he believes the city's fate rests on getting as many businesses up and running as possible.
Kelly and his team are working on rebuilding the Deep Sea building because it's the first thing visitors see when they get off the ferry. "We wanted to give people hope," Kelly explained. "We felt it was very important to start with that one."