Schools closed indefinitely
Electrical power may be on by Sept. 8
The City of Rockport, where the eye of Hurricane Harvey passed, is arguably suffering some of the most worst damages since the storm pounded the Texas shoreline on August 26. According to Mayor Charles J. Wax, thousands of individuals spent their Labor Day weekend cleaning.
“We are eternally grateful for their generosity in coming to our aid when they could be taking the day off and not having to deal with the heat, mosquitos and lack of power,” the mayor said. “For all of them, and our continued staff, it WAS a day of Labor.”
Electrical power is not expected to return to the area until September 8. Officials are asking those with homes or business that suffered severe damage to turn off their main circuit breaks “to minimize the possibility of arcs and surges when power returns.” Mayor Wax confirms there will be fire teams and power specialists available in the event of fires.
A water boil advisory remains in effect as testing and repairs to the municipal water system take place. Wax stated that “although there is water coming out of the faucet, it should not be used for bathroom purposes or pouring things down the drain. The system is being overloaded in its testing capacity and we’re having to bring generators in to power some lift stations to avert a sewage overflow problem as the wastewater treatment plant is not fully operational.”
After receiving a formal damage assessment the local school district decided that school will be closed indefinitely while repairs are made. Aransas County Independent School District Superintendent Joseph Patek said they encouraging “those parents/guardians that have the ability to go ahead and enroll your student in a school district where you are currently staying or where you have family. All students displaced by this disaster will be accepted at other districts in Texas and ACISD will do everything we can to make sure records are sent. Your student is now also eligible for homeless services which include free lunch. Please make sure and visit with the receiving district personnel when enrolling for more details.”
North Star Recovery informed Patek that are 400 working in their schools this week. “Since every building received damage it took them this long to assess and document everything, buildings and equipment, that was damaged.” The Superintendent expects a timeline report by Friday, September 8 will provide estimates openings dates for the schools.
“The curriculum team has been meeting and planning what we will do if we are told it will take a few months before we reopen,” Patek said. “I have also had two conferences with Texas Education Agency (TEA) to assist us in our planning.”
The City and County have brought in contracted outside services to deal with the enormous amount of debris left over from the hurricane. “We are aware of unprofessional contracts who have removed trees, limbs and debris and then dumped them on empty lots and side streets,” the Wax said. “Several have been caught. If you witness any illegal dumping, get the license plate of the offending vehicle and call the Public Safety Center.”
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Other news presented by Mayor Max includes:
- Don’t forget to separate building materials and yard waste and leave them in your yard or driveway, not in the street.
- State/National Resources. TWIA (Texas Windstorm) has set up a mobile claims center at GSM Insurors at 1102 Laurel Street in Rockport and the Lindale Recreation Center, located at 3133 Swantner Street in Corpus Christi. The Small Business Administration is setting up in the Women’s Club building next to Veteran’s Park, near downtown by the harbor. FEMA is already set up at the park so this will make it convenient for everyone.
- Long Term Housing. “We have initiated the process for securing housing through FEMA,” said Wax. “I have been assured that there are more options than just trailers. We’ll have more information soon.
- Missing Loved Ones. “If you’re trying to locate someone call the Red Cross at 866-526-8300. If you think someone may be looking for you, use the Save and Well link at www.redcross.org. Work is underway on developing a special web site for missing animals.
- Garbage pickup runs are being made with expanded services. “Continue to put your household refuse in your blue and green bins. Make separate piles for building debris, trees/limbs and appliances. If you’re missing a bin, you may pick one up at the former Service Center, which is located at Laurel and Gagnon. Place them close to the curb or on your property – not the street. The Transfer Station will operate 7 days a week from 7 am – 6 pm for an indefinite period.”
If you have been staying in Rockport, it’s very important to get a tetanus shot. They are FREE at the County Jail, Code 3 Urgent/Emergency Care at Pearl and Enterprise, and the Urgent Care Center on 35. If you’re cleaning up building debris or rainsoaked areas, be sure to wear gloves, thick shoes and a mask. For those whose homes have been compromised, there is a chance of mold becoming an issue due to the high humidity. We are working on getting truckloads of Damp Rid delivered to the community. — Rockport Mayor C.J. Wax
“There is a large contingent of volunteers that will undertake removal. They will begin in two places – (1) south of Market and (2) north of Henderson. They will continue outward. Once they have reached the end of City limits, they will move inward from the two sites. 6. Goods Pickup. Ice, water and MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) are being distributed daily from 8 am – 6 pm at Fat’s in Lamar, old HEB parking lot and Castaways,” the Mayor announced.
“Numerous churches also have necessities for residents in need and some good Samaritans are setting up throughout the city.”
- Government Assistance. Staff from the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) will work next week out of Corpus Christi City Hall, 1201 Leopard Street, from Tuesday, September 5 through Friday, September 8 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to meet with the public and answer their questions about insurance matters related to Hurricane Harvey. They will be located on the first floor in the alcove facing Leopard Street. On Saturday, September 9, they will be at the La Retama Central Library, 805 Comanche, in the library’s conference room from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- FEMA and the SBA have set up at Veterans Park near downtown and the Harbor.
- All out-of-area contractors will be required to register at the Rockport Service Center. They will be vetted and given a special “City authorized” tag for their car. While this may be an inconvenience for them, it is a way to ensure that residents are getting work done by individuals/customers who are aware of our building codes and the regulations associated with TWIA certified roofing.
- We are receiving an inordinate amount of non-emergency calls on our system. Wellness checks and relative location requests should be directed to the Red Cross.
- Our local post office is partially operational. They have started delivering mail to locations where a mail box is still standing. We will provide you with a direct contact and location in Corpus next week to check on the status of your mail.
- Save the Tree? Some folks are unsure if their trees can be saved. The Texas A&M Forestry Service will be available to answer questions and look at your property. Informational handouts are being developed and will be available through the Rockport Service Center, Public Safety Center, Chamber and The Pilot. This is being coordinated through the Nueces Extension Office. 361-767-5250.
- If you have suffered significant damage and are rebuilding, you will need to obtain a building permit.
- City Hall and Operations. Just a reminder that while City offices are closed due to damages, there are a great number of employees working behind the scenes. This includes members of our Public Works, Parks, Police and Public Safety Staff. And, a “satellite” City Hall has been in operation in Bastrop since last Friday to answer calls, relay information to us in the Emergency Operations Center, and coordinate communication on our web site and with social media pages.