Port Aransas city manager says tourism is crucial to city's survival

Some business aimed to reopen by spring break

By Courtney Friedman - VJ, Reporter

PORT ARANSAS, Texas - Residents of Port Aransas weathered Hurricane Harvey together, and now they face the challenges of rebuilding their city together.

Six months after Harvey hit, the people of Port Aransas are still working daily to restore their jobs, businesses and homes.

Port Aransas City Manager David Parsons is in the same condition as the rest of his community.

“Pretty much ripped all my shingles off and it just rained inside my house for days, so it ended up being a full gut. You rip everything out down to the studs and you just start over again,” he said.

It’s taken a long time, but Parsons finally got drywall for his house. Some homeowners, however, had their homes completely wiped away.

Parsons’ neighbors of 12 years, who lives across the street, had to demolish their house and still haven’t gone back.

“There’s a lot of people that lost jobs and couldn't afford to stay here,” Parsons said.

With homes and jobs already affected, the community is relying almost entirely on spring break tourism.

“It’s a big shot in the arm for businesses and rentals and workers, and I think we’re lucky to be where we are right now,” Parsons said.

Port Aransas police estimate the beach crowds are down about 20 percent so far this spring break. Parsons said the biggest drop is in local lodging for short-term rentals, which is down about 50 percent right now.

Business owners and renters had goals of reopening by spring break.

“Some of them were lucky and hit that target. Other people are targeting maybe Memorial Day weekend,” Parsons said.

Parsons hopes vacationers will realize the goals are set specifically for holidays, which mean more tourism, customers and, in turn, growth.

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