Blown away: On the Texas Coast, a recovery haunted by the past

Jeremy Schwartz, Austin American-Statesman on

Published in Weather News

"Now, especially as we rebuild, some residents may need that," Clark said. "We're going to have to figure out all that. Not everyone is going to be happy."

City leaders in the region worry that they lack the personnel and expertise to handle what promises to be years of seeking grants and recovery funds from the federal government. Roads, harbors, piers, pump stations and water treatment plants will all need to be rebuilt or repaired. After the state's most recent hurricanes -- Ike and Dolly -- cities were forced to navigate a thicket of regional, state and federal bureaucracies.

County officials have pledged to help such small communities. And the state's Harvey recovery czar, Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp, grew up in a small coastal town -- Placedo -- and has vowed to make sure small cities get their due. But experts in disaster recovery say it's common for small towns, and especially unincorporated areas, to struggle to compete for recovery funds.

"We have a city secretary, assistant city secretary and two maintenance workers, and that's it," Clark said. "We don't have all these engineers, administrators; we don't have any of that, and we need help on that desperately."

Bayside: 'A forgotten little town'

What many here remember most about the hurricane was the awful roar of the wind as it tore through the town hour after hour. "I told my husband, Dennis, I just wish that sound would go away," Clark said. "I remember when it was over, we came out and opened the doors. It looked like a war zone."

But for days, Bayside didn't see the volunteers and donations that were flooding into the larger, better known cities around them. Finally, a frustrated resident called a local radio station and said the town needed help.

"Needless to say, this is what happened," Clark said, pointing to piles of donated toiletries, bottled water, diapers and MREs that fill Bayside's small City Hall. The help has continued to flow, though Clark says she's worried that it, too, will dry up.

On a recent weekday, a volunteer group from nearby Woodsboro hauled in three huge smokers to cook brisket for residents in the parking lot of Bayside's shuttered post office. Mike Gibbs, who runs Rawhide Cattle Co., said a friend told him no one was helping the folks in Bayside.

"It's kind of a forgotten little town," he said. "There's no stores or restaurants open here. Hopefully this gets people re-energized. Its adrenaline those first few days, and then people realize it's a long haul."


swipe to next page


blog comments powered by Disqus