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Progress, however slow, motivates Port Aransas officials despite the 5-year wait

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Posted at 9:50 PM, Aug 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-25 18:22:58-04

Five years to the day since Hurricane Harvey over $110 million has been spent -- and Port Aransas is still rebuilding – its shredded government buildings and public facilities.

“Hurricane Harvey caused so much destruction and devastation to our community,” said mayor Wendy Moore.

Moore's hometown was crushed half a decade ago, but these days she chooses to remain optimistic.

It's because of the people who live here, she said, on this little piece of paradise.

“When I look back, I think how thankful I am that our citizens, our community, is really recovered and really resilient and made a lot of progress,” she said.

The progress is significant, but there’s still so much more to be done.

Moore served on the city council when Harvey blasted ashore.

“I was here two days after the destruction, and that feeling was the worst feeling of my entire life,” she said.

A lot has changed since Harvey's crushing blow.

Now, Moore is the new mayor of Port Aransas, and she believes the city has finally found its footing with a recovery plan, but it's still battling with the federal government and FEMA for funding.

“It's a waiting game,” she said. “We're waiting on the money, but we're trying to move forward -- just planning -- so we can move forward.”

Just months ago, the city finally forged a deal with FEMA to be reimbursed for 90 percent of the cost.

So far, work has been completed on the floating docks’ infrastructure and the chamber of commerce/tourism building have been rebuilt.

However, gas lines still are being replaced, and the city’s three main fishing piers -- Ancel Brundrett, Charlie's Pasture and Roberts Point -- should all be completed by the end of the year, as well as reconstruction of the bulkheads and seawalls.

But still way behind schedule are the fire department and EMS buildings, public works buildings.

They’re all still waiting to be rebuilt.

A new law-enforcement center for police, the constable’s office, and municipal court are now in the early working stages.

“The building was a total loss from the beginning,” said Port Aransas Police Chief Scott Burroughs.

He is finally seeing progress after five years of working in a portable building.

“Probably, if I was going to use one word, it would be ‘frustrating,’ ” he said. “Dealing with the bureaucracy of the federal government.”

But with the new city reimbursement plan, there's positive movement.

The chief is hoping to break ground on a new police station sometime next year and hopes to see it finished in at least two years.

Burroughs said one downfall of this long wait, however, is recruiting.

“We are a few officers short,” he said. “And seeing the conditions we're in right now is not a great selling point for us.”

But the city moves forward, cautiously optimistic.

Nothing fancy, just forward progress five years after the storm.

“One of the silver linings about Harvey is that when you do rebuild, we can rebuild it better so that the next time, you know, you don’t have that same devastation.”