1,000-year-old Texas oak tree survives Hurricane Harvey – the 500-year storm

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(Editor’s Note: This story was initially published Aug. 27, 2017, two days after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas. Many of our readers at the time were inspired by the Big Tree’s perseverance, so on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, we are choosing to reshare this story with our readers.)

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Before Harvey dropped unprecedented amounts of rain on Houston, the storm brought Category 4-level winds to the Texas coast in Rockport.

And while the storm devastated large portions of the coastal town, one of it’s most famous natural structures survived.

The Big Tree at Goose Island State Park, which is more than 1,000 years old, came through Harvey – what has been labeled a “500-year storm” for its rarity –  relatively unscathed, even as younger trees fell victim to the storm.

UNCHARTED: NOAA graphs show just how swollen Houston’s bayous could get after Harvey 

According to the parks department, the tree has a circumference of more than 35 feet with an average diameter of more than 11 feet. At its peak it stands 44 feet tall, but in a 2011 profile, the Houston Chronicle’s Andrew Dansby said it is that girth, rather than the height that is truly impressive.

Over the centuries the great tree has seen it’s fair share of disasters. This is far from the first hurricane it has weathered. A plaque in front of the Big Tree states the following:

“I am a live oak tree and I am very old. I have seen spring return more than a thousand times. I can remember hundreds of hurricanes, most I’d rather forget, but I withstood.”

THE IMPACT: Rockport residents stunned by devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey