PORT ARANSAS, Texas – Hannah Chipman, who works for Nueces County Commissioner Brent Chesney, says the residents of Port Aransas need physical help and monetary donations, not food and clothing, to rebuild their community.
Port Aransas was hit hardest by the windstorm of Hurricane Harvey. Chipman estimated that 95 to 98 percent of homes were damaged by the Category 4 storm.
“This area suffered the most destruction in our county. If there is not wind damage, there is water damage with 95 to 98 percent of everything that is out here. Everything is pretty much devastated,” Chipman said.
“Right now, we are asking for monetary donations to be sent to www.portaransas.org, which is our local Chamber’s website. We are collecting online monetary donations. We are not asking for solicited or unsolicited donations at this time due to the fact there is no place to store these donations.”
Chipman said Port Aransas currently has sufficient supplies for residents at Roberts Point Pavilion, and at the marina near the ferry landing. “What we really need is volunteers. We have a volunteer center set up at the community center at 408 Alister Street. People who would like to volunteer can do so at that location. We also have Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and FEMA set up in the building as well.”
Chipman ran through some of the things Port Aransas does and does not need, one week after the Harvey made landfall.
“We don’t need water, that’s for sure. This changes day by day. We may need water in a week, for all I know. A lot of people are donating hot meals. There is no place to refrigerate hot meals so people could, potentially, get sick. We don’t need diapers, we don’t need formula,” Chipman said.
“What we really need is boots on the ground, we need people that want to come out with tractors and supplies to help people pick up the rubble at their home, that are willing to come out here and work, to get dirty, to get gritty, to roll their sleeves up and get to work. That is what we need. We need volunteers. That is what we need right now.”
Asked how much damage Harvey had done, Chipman said:
“There is not a single home in Port Aransas that has not been affected by this hurricane. I think our arts building is just amazing. It was just built. A lot of great people raised money and put together this new arts center. It was the only thing left standing without significant damage. The art is untouched.”
Asked to describe the community of Port Aransas, Chipman said: “We are a small little coastal, tourist, community. We have a lot of Winter Texans. Port Aransas is a place a lot of people in Texas love to come to. It is a beautiful community and we need your help. There are lot of people who really care about the area. They are willing to do whatever it takes to get it back up and running again.”
Chipman said most residents evacuated Port Aransas before the hurricane hit and have since returned to inspect the damage. She said there are few hotel rooms available.
“It is near impossible to find a hotel room. A lot of people are taking people in. That’s who we are in South Texas. We have a great community and we all believe in helping each other. That is the South Texas way,” Chipman said.
There is one good story coming out of Port Aransas, Chipman was pleased to report.
“The first place to open up since the hurricane is a bar called Shorty’s. It is the oldest bar in Port Aransas. They opened up last Sunday, I believe. It is a hole-in-the-wall kind of bar. It is a place a lot of people in Port Aransas hold dear to their heart. You go there and everyone puts their hat up. There are hats all over the ceiling. It is an old shrimpers bar. It is kind of a landmark in Port Aransas.”
Chipman finished her interview by repeating her main message:
“We really could do with some help. It really would be great if we could get some volunteers on the ground. We could use a lot of manual labor. We need monetary donations and we need boots on the ground. We don’t want people to forget about us in South Texas. We definitely need their help.”