Rockport-Fulton Recovery at 50-70% complete
Hurricane Harvey Progress Report
Elected officials, emergency personnel, first responders, long term recovery team members, and key players in the Hurricane Harvey Recovery effort met recently to review, report and conclude the overall percentage complete for projects related to Hurricane Harvey that hit the Rockport-Fulton area head on August 25, 2017.
Department Heads and Long Term Recovery Team members are working off of a plan. The plan is divided into two areas: Individual assistance (IA) and Public Assistance (PA). These areas affect residents and local government as a whole. Some areas of the plan are at 75% complete while other areas such as housing are 40-50% complete. Those areas are: Debris management 90%, Beaches 80-90%, Power 75-80%, Lodging 50%, Businesses 90%, Public Schools 75%, Local Attractions 75%, Airport 10-15%, Housing 40-50%, Law Enforcement 65%, and Street Signs 80%.
Estimates indicate Aransas County’s population to be 19,000 and growing as the workers return. That’s down around 25% since the storm. The Appraisal District is reporting a structural value loss of more than 25%. In regards to building permits within the city of Rockport, there are currently 18 remodels and additions, total valuation $4.9M with an average of $227K and 13 New Builds with a total valuation $10.6M with an average of $820K, a 40% percent increase over pre-Harvey numbers. These figures are from September 2017 thru February 2019.
As of December 2018, Aransas County had an available workforce of 10,200 people with 9,800 working and 400 unemployed. That is an unemployment rate of 4.6%, compared to 10.8% during the month immediately following Harvey. 2018 Sales tax collections were at 12.21% above the 2017 year. The difficult time starts now as the community compare current numbers against numbers when all the contractors were in town doing repairs. Venue Hotel Tax for 2018 totaled $272K which was only down by 30% against pre-Harvey numbers.
In regards to bank deposits, in June 2017 – 7 local banks ( included Value Bank ) total deposits were $355M. In June 2018 – 6 local banks with total deposits increased to $427M, a 20% increase probably due everyone depositing large insurance checks. The Real Estate Market continues to follow a good path through 2018 with the Rockport Country Club being the hottest sales area in our market.
Although much progress has been made, reports of delays in areas of funding, insurance, red tape, paperwork, etc. still remain as obstacles.
Emergency Management Director Rick McLester reminds everyone “This is a marathon, not a sprint. Our goal in the beginning was and still is if one person falls through the cracks then we have failed. We have to take care of our fellow man.”
Representatives from the Volunteer Reception Center and the Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group express the need for more volunteers to come to our community to assist with rebuild projects. “We have some 500 projects yet to complete. We have people just now coming forward who have started to realize they can’t do it on their own. We want them to feel comfortable to come down to the First Baptist Church to get on the list to get the assistance they need,” stated Cyndi Powell of the Hands of Hope Organization. Organizations willing to volunteer are encouraged to contact her directly at 361-463-2186.
For homeowners still needing assistance, they are urged to contact the Texas General Land Office Homeowner Assistance Program (HAP). GrantWorks, the contractors for the HAP program, is expected to help repair thousands of homes damaged by Hurricane Harvey. The Texas Coastal Bend Region was allocated more than $121 million on a first-come first-served basis.
Aransas County Judge Burt Mills praises the Long Term Recovery Team and the progress they have made stating “The team has done an outstanding job for us and so has all department heads and organizations throughout our community,” concludes Mills. The Long Term Recovery Team is made up of a project manager, two former city managers, a housing person, a reception clerk/volunteer coordinator, a governmental affairs liaison and a public information officer. All positions were funded by disaster related funds or donations.
The next move is for the state legislature to take action on releasing funds to the entities. A trip to visit with key legislators in Austin was held mid-February.
For more information, call the Long Term Recovery Hotline at 361-790-9496 or visit the website at https://www.aransascounty.org/harvey.
Additional Information on the Progress of
Aransas County, Rockport and Fulton after Hurricane Harvey:
The Long Term Recovery Team, representatives of each governmental entity and the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce meet weekly for reports on the following projects related to Hurricane Harvey:
406 Public Assistance Projects – The 406 grant is managed by the State under funding provided for by the Stafford Act. Section 406 mitigation measures are funded under the Public Assistance, or Infrastructure, program (PA). It is applied on the parts of the facility that were damaged by the disaster and the mitigation measure that directly reduces the potential of future, similar disaster damages to the eligible facility. Our local entities are working with FEMA employees on those projects. Those entities and their projects are:
- Navigation District Update – Keith Barrett
- Town of Fulton Update – Mayor Kendrick – Paws & Taws and Fulton Pier Rebuilt
- City of Rockport Update – Kevin/Mike/Amanda
- Aransas County Update – Reid/Gonzalez – Rattlesnake Point Rd, Loop 1781, Banty Ln, Copano Heights, Ling Rd, W. Sagebrush Rd, Speckled Trout Rd.
Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Update – This 404 funding is used to provide protection to undamaged parts of a facility or to prevent or reduce damages caused by future disasters. The 404 grant is managed by the State under funding provided for in the Stafford Act. The State receives a percentage of the Total Federal share of the declared disaster damage amount (20%), which it uses to fund projects anywhere in the State, regardless of where the declared disaster occurred or the disaster type. 404 grant funding may be used in conjunction with 406 mitigation funds to bring an entire facility to a higher level of disaster resistance, when only portions of the facility were damaged by the current disaster event. All sub-applicants for HMGP must have a FEMA-approved local or Tribal Mitigation Plan at the time of obligation of grant funds for mitigation projects. The Long Term Recovery Team developed the plan months ago. Our plans have all been approved. Projects in motion include:
- Aransas County – Reid/Gonzalez – Pete’s Bend Watershed
- City of Rockport – Kevin/Mike/Amanda – Two projects have been submitted to Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) for review. Both are drainage projects located along Business 35 that will alleviate issues between Enterprise Blvd and Maple Street, as well as Traylor Blvd and Tule Park Drive.
Property owner demo/repair – Commercial and residential property owners unable or if they are unable to be located fall under the direction of the below:
FEMA Demo List – Valerie Gonzalez – More than 40 homes on the list to be demolished over the next month.
General Land Office Housing Assistance Program Office (HAP) – More than 270 people from Aransas County have gone through the application process. 29 homes are in the docket to start soon. The state company contracted to build the homes did extensive quality work in Galveston after Hurricane Ike. They have the capacity/manpower to construct a home in 18-days. The first rebuild is complete with landscaping and is located on the corner of Market and Mathis.
Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group (CBDRG) is currently on target to open a home a week leveraging the services of Samaritan’s Purse, Habitat for Humanity, Mennonites Disaster Services, and others.
Hands of Hope continues to give assistance from their office trailer at the First Baptist Church.
Housing Stock Update – Apartment units currently on the market range in price from $598 to $1200. Apartment complexes funded by the General Land Office program are slated to be built in 2019. A list of rentals can be found at https://bit.ly/2Bxp9vu. Kontiki Beach has some condos available. Condos coming on board in the Spring include: Marina Club. Condos coming back in the Summer include: Casa Allegro, Allegro Isle and some of Bayhouse Condos totaling to more than 100 units.
Business Updates – 95% of the businesses are open. A second survey round will be implemented in Feb. 2019. Economic Development Corporation (EDC) Community Input Sessions are being held to involve the community in the formation of an EDC.
Other Updates Include:
- Aquarium – working on Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR) funding for difference needed in funding.
- West Harbor Marina Project (Harborfront) – Completing application for Economic Development Administration funds.
- Bay Education Center – Working to secure components to open
- Cedar Bayou – Working to secure funding for the reopening in Spring 2020
Blue Crab – Keep Aransas County Beautiful and the Winery By The Bay are working together to raise funds to rebuild the crab.