Rockport





The tropical cyclone barreled ashore at Rockport, then weakened and meandered for days up the Texas coast, triggering the largest rainfall event ever recorded in the U.S. — dumping more than 60 inches on some areas. It left more than 90 people dead and caused about $125 billion worth of property damage

Walters, Edgar. “No place back home: A year after Harvey, Rockport can't house all its displaced residents.” The Texas Tribune. August 24th, 2018.

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Rockport resident Robert Jackson said riding out the storm was “about the most stressful thing I've ever been through.” He said he didn't sleep at all overnight because the wind “sounded like a freight train with square wheels.” “This is my last one to ride out, I'll tell you that,” he said.

Walters, Edgar. “No place back home: A year after Harvey, Rockport can't house all its displaced residents.” The Texas Tribune. August 24th, 2018.




When the storm’s inner core arrived, [Josh Morgerman, hurricane chaser] said, it was terrifying. “Once we got into the inner edge of the core which had embedded mesovortices [violent, swirling winds, not unlike a tornado], the wind direction was extremely erratic,” he said. “That’s especially scary because debris is blowing every which way and if debris hits you at that speed, it’s instant death.”

Walters, Edgar. “No place back home: A year after Harvey, Rockport can't house all its displaced residents.” The Texas Tribune. August 24th, 2018.

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The whole city looks as though it’s been tipped on its axis. Everything that's standing leans.

Branson-Potts, Hailey. “Hurricane Harvey destroyed this town. But residents are laughing through the destruction.” The Los Angeles Times. August 31, 2017.






Nobody knows exactly how many of Rockport’s roughly 10,000 residents left after Harvey blasted through here as a Category 4 storm on Aug. 25, 2017, but a loose consensus among local officials is that population is down about 20 percent.

Walters, Edgar. “No place back home: A year after Harvey, Rockport can't house all its displaced residents.” The Texas Tribune. August 24th, 2018




Larry Williams, a 58-year-old food truck owner, drove down from his home in Austin to Rockport, where he owns a second home. He only lost “a square of shingles,” but his neighbor lost everything. The storm, he said, seemingly picked its victims at random.

Branson-Potts, Hailey. “Hurricane Harvey destroyed this town. But residents are laughing through the destruction.” The Los Angeles Times. August 31, 2017.

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“You can never go home again — you really can’t,” [Anita Phillips] said over the sound of someone hammering outside.

Walters, Edgar. “No place back home: A year after Harvey, Rockport can't house all its displaced residents.” The Texas Tribune. August 24th, 2018.




Since all that’s left of the old Aransas County Courthouse is a pile of rubble and a slab of concrete, these days County Judge Burt Mills holds office in a strip mall storefront, flanked by a Chinese buffet and a boutique.

Walters, Edgar. “No place back home: A year after Harvey, Rockport can't house all its displaced residents.” The Texas Tribune. August 24th, 2018.




So far, 2.5 million cubic yards of debris caused by Hurricane Harvey have been removed from Rockport. That’s one-fourth of all the hurricane debris in the state. By comparison, Houston, a city 216 times Rockport’s size, cleared 3 million cubic yards of debris.

Frazee, Gretchen. “Ripped apart by Hurricane Harvey, this Texas community needs tourists to come back.” PBS. January 29th, 2018.

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A survey released this week by the Kaiser Family and Episcopal Health foundations found that 62 percent of people in coastal areas hit by Harvey, including Aransas County, suffered damage to their homes, while 27 percent said someone in their household experienced job or income loss. Eight percent of the respondents said they haven’t been able to return home.

Walters, Edgar. “No place back home: A year after Harvey, Rockport can't house all its displaced residents.” The Texas Tribune. August 24th, 2018.



…the city estimates its sales tax revenue will drop 40 percent in the next year. Property tax could decline another 26 percent. That would leave the city with an annual $2 million shortfall — an amount that could be a rounding error for in a major city, but accounts for nearly a quarter of Rockport’s annual budget.

Frazee, Gretchen. “Ripped apart by Hurricane Harvey, this Texas community needs tourists to come back.” PBS. Janaury 29th, 2018.



Diane Probst, president of the local chamber of commerce, said the area has been desperate to attract workers as hotels and local businesses have reopened. “Do we need to house them in Beeville” — about an hour away — “and bus ‘em over here?” she asked.

Walters, Edgar. “No place back home: A year after Harvey, Rockport can't house all its displaced residents.” The Texas Tribune. August 24th, 2018.


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When their hotel voucher expired, [Anita Phillips] and her family relocated to the tiny town of Gregory. It was the nearest place she could afford. [...] Her living situation in Gregory is far from ideal — the new landlord charges a prohibitively expensive pet rate, and the apartment complex has very little shade, making it difficult for her younger daughter, who has albinism, to go outside.

Walters, Edgar. “No place back home: A year after Harvey, Rockport can't house all its displaced residents.” The Texas Tribune. August 24th, 2018.

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Some Rockport residents were displaced by the storm, but others were too poor to escape it. That’s how Franklin Rowe sees his situation, anyway. The couple said they received about $4,000 from FEMA, which fixed the porch and paid for a rented ozone machine for the mold, with enough left over to have a fallen tree removed.

Rowe said multiple contractors have quoted their damages at about $90,000, more than it would cost to buy a new trailer. So for the last year, Rowe has been living in the mold-infested home, using inhalers to deal with flare-ups from his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. “Ain’t got no money to go nowhere else,” Rowe said. “Like my mother-in-law said, ‘Y’all can’t even afford the U-Haul to get out of town.’”

Walters, Edgar. “No place back home: A year after Harvey, Rockport can't house all its displaced residents.” The Texas Tribune. August 24th, 2018.


“[Low-wage workers] have moved on to bigger places like San Antonio or wherever, got jobs, got a place to live,” he said. “Maybe they’d like to come back to Rockport, but would they like to come back for a job that pays not as much as they’re making in San Antonio — and not have a house to live in?”

Walters, Edgar. “No place back home: A year after Harvey, Rockport can't house all its displaced residents.” The Texas Tribune. August 24th, 2018.

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[Richard] Gonzales lives in a one-bedroom house in Aransas Pass. His roof was partially caved in, and he’s got some broken windows. But the house is standing, so he considers himself lucky. Since the storm, a seagull with a broken wing has been hanging around his place. He’s been feeding it Cheetos. “There's a bird walking around here now with an orange beak,” he said.

Branson-Potts, Hailey. “Hurricane Harvey destroyed this town. But residents are laughing through the destruction.” The Los Angeles Times. August 31, 2017.




Despite the growing risks of natural disaster, the number of Texans living in coastal counties has seen explosive growth over time. Texas’ share of the nation’s coastal population grew from 4.9 percent in 1960 to 6.7 percent in 2008, according to a U.S. Census Bureau study. From 2000 to 2016, coastline counties along the Gulf of Mexico grew by more than 3 million people, or 24.5 percent — led by Harris County, which includes Houston and added 1.2 million residents.

Walters, Edgar. “No place back home: A year after Harvey, Rockport can't house all its displaced residents.” The Texas Tribune. August 24th, 2018.







More than 10,000 homes along the Texas coast will flood at least 26 times a year by 2045, researchers say. 

Sadasivam, Naveena. “Sinking Land and Climate Change Are Worsening Tidal Floods on the Texas Coast.” The Texas Observer. June 20th, 2018.







Scientists expect the oceans to rise at an increasing rate as the planet warms, seawater expands and ice sheets and glaciers melt. Globally, sea levels are projected to rise between 0.66 and 6.6 feet by 2100.

Sadasivam, Naveena. “Sinking Land and Climate Change Are Worsening Tidal Floods on the Texas Coast.” The Texas Observer. June 20th, 2018. 




“We’re at the beginning of this flooding in Texas,” [Philippe Tissot, a professor at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi] said. “Once you start seeing it over the next few decades, it’ll be happening more and more, and there’s no going back.”

Sadasivam, Naveena. “Sinking Land and Climate Change Are Worsening Tidal Floods on the Texas Coast.” The Texas Observer. June 20th, 2018.



Two studies published in the past week [May 8th, 2018] have troubling implications for the effects hurricanes have on society because of climate change, now and in the future. […] The study determined that the energy released into the atmosphere from Harvey’s rainfall matched the amount of energy which was removed from the ocean in the storm’s wake.

In other words, the study found that the amount of heat stored in the ocean is directly related to how much rain a storm can unload. [...] The implication is that if climate change, driven by increasing greenhouse gases from human activity, increases the heat content of the ocean, storms passing over it will be able to draw ever more moisture that they can unload as rain.

Samenow, Jason. “Because of climate change, hurricanes are raining harder and may be growing stronger more quickly.” The Washington Post. May 8th, 2018.






All attribution studies to date, by Emanuel (2017), Risser and Wehner (2017), van Oldenborgh et al. (2017), and Wang et al. (2018), indicate increased precipitation intensity caused by anthropogenic warming.

Vano, Julie, et al. “Hydroclimatic Extremes as Challenges for the Water Management Community: Lessons from Oroville Dam and Hurricane Harvey”Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS). December 2018.



“The sign maker and the stonemason together; we’ll rebuild Rockport,” he said to his friend. But Duckworth’s eyes hinted that he was tired. They’ll rebuild, he said. But today he just didn’t really have the heart to do much at all.

Branson-Potts, Hailey. “Hurricane Harvey destroyed this town. But residents are laughing through the destruction.” The Los Angeles Times. August 31, 2017.


Mark