Rockport tourism thrives five years after Hurricane Harvey despite even more hurdles

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ROCKPORT- – Hurricane Harvey destroyed cities and upended lives along the Texas coast five years ago. KSAT crews that traveled to Rockport during the storm returned to check in with the community, where they found that the strength displayed during the city’s darkest hour had only grown.

Gloria Whitley has lived in Rockport for almost 30 years and has lived most of her life on the coast.

“On August 3, 1970, (Hurricane) Celia hit, and I remember it clearly. I remember mopping up the water that was rushing under the windows. It was so powerful,” he said. she stated.

Fast forward 50 years, an even more powerful hurricane would hit the area.

Whitley was working downtown at the Texas by Design store when Hurricane Harvey rolled through Rockport.

“Nothing was open here, and of course we had no facilities. I think it was about a week before the water was clean enough. Where we lived, it took us about three weeks before we had electricity,” she said.

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Whitley said the shop suffered extensive water damage, but staff were determined to reopen it. They didn’t know at the time how strong that determination must be.

“We had Harvey. Then we had the pandemic, which also denied us. And then we had a freeze a few years ago that stopped us. So it was one thing after another,” Whitley said.

Seemingly endless obstacles have slowed down all kinds of businesses in Rockport.

A strong sign of vitality in the town are the small bait shops that line the harbour. Many were destroyed during the hurricane.

“If you think about it, without the bait, the fishermen can’t come and fish, which means they won’t spend that money on local hotels and restaurants. Basically, the whole economy of this area depends on these stores,” said Rockport Harbor Master Keith Barrett.

Drought and inflation also affected stores, but owners said they were still open and welcoming.

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The city, despite all the obstacles, is booming.

“I have to say it’s been the best summer we’ve had,” Whitley said. “Since Memorial Day it has been busy, and that’s thanks to the people of San Antonio and the surrounding area.”

It is also thanks to the true courage of a community that refused to give up.

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