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ROCKPORT-FULTON, Texas – Even after dealing with the devastation and heartbreak associated with Hurricane Harvey, residents of Rockport-Fulton and Aransas county are moving forward as they observe the second anniversary of the category 4 history-making hurricane.
“The floor plan’s the same” said Rockport resident Phil Howard. “There was a chimney there; I had a fireplace before.”
A year and a half ago, Howard’s home looked a lot different. His hope was to construct a hip roof this time after his roof was destroyed by Harvey’s winds.
“If you look around most of the roofs that survived are hip roofs,” said Howard a year and a half ago. “So I’m going to have a hip-roof.”
Howard not only has his hip roof, but his home of 40 years back.
“Thought about moving to Colorado, but decided not to,” joked Howard.
And a big reason Howard decided to stay was because of those Copano Bay views.
“Look at the water, saw a couple of big red fish the other day you know, it’s fun,” said Howard.
Speaking of fun, it was front and center for the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce’s first membership drive since Harvey.
“Everybody has been so busy getting their businesses back and going that we decided that we would just do a quick blitz this year to get as many members signed back up as we could,” said Richard Dias, a General Contractor in Aransas county who’s also on the Rockport-Fulton Chamber.
According to the Chamber, the membership drive was a success. They’re goal of adding 100 new members to the Chamber was exceeded by 37.
“We had 90% of the businesses up and running after the first year; 90%,” reiterated Diane Probst, President & CEO of the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce. “That’s quite a number for us.”
One business, a Rockport staple, is Moore Than Feed. It was among the over 1,300 businesses nearly wiped out by Harvey’s category 4 lashing.
“We had to redo the whole store on the inside,” said Melvin Moore, owner of Moore Than Feed. “Our ceilings in here now are what blew off our boat barn across the street.”
Harvey’s winds damaging some 18,000 structures in Rockport-Fulton including the Paws and Taws Convention Center. This shining, social hotspot in Fulton has been closed down since Harvey. But now, a brand new 10,000 sq.ft. facility is replacing the old building. Fulton Mayor Jimmy Kendrick saying help from FEMA, Rebuild Texas, as well as the city means the new Fulton Convention Center will be opening in January.
“Right now we’re rebuilding; we’re going to be done,” said an optimistic Mayor Kendrick. “We’re going to have most of our stuff back on the ground in 3 years which is a miracle.”
The biggest need now is for the workforce to return, says Rockport Mayor Patrick Rios.
“I know we have one restaurant that says they can hire 40 people tomorrow if they were here, so we’re working on that,” says Mayor Rios.
While initial estimates were that it may take close to a decade to recover, some leaders are optimistic, thinking it may only be a couple years. Of the 22 hotels that were operating before Harvey, the Chamber says only 3 remain closed due to more comprehensive renovations.