AP NEWS

Texas towns hit hard by Hurricane Harvey work to recover

January 15, 2018

FILE - In this Sept. 2, 2017, file photo, workers pick up debris in a staircase of a four-story hotel exposed when the wall fell during Hurricane Harvey, in Rockport, Texas. Texas coastal towns where Hurricane Harvey made landfall are working to restore tourism and other economic attractions nearly five months after the storm. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

ROCKPORT, Texas (AP) — Some Texas coastal towns where Hurricane Harvey made landfall are working to restore tourism and other economic attractions nearly five months after the storm.

Hundreds of businesses in Rockport and Fulton are now open amid recovery efforts assisted by Aransas County and other government officials, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports . Experts estimate the immediate impact of Harvey added up to $134 million in business losses in the county.

Harvey made landfall Aug. 25, leaving behind destroyed homes, businesses and infrastructure in Rockport, with about 10,000 residents. Nearby Fulton, a town of nearly 1,600, also took a heavy hit.

Officials with the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce said about 460 businesses of 1,300 are now operating.

Allison Larsen, a volunteer with International Economic Development Corp., was part of a recent recovery meeting. The area’s charm — with special events, hospitality and homegrown businesses — is intact, according to Larsen.

“There’s no doubt you have natural assets,” she said in a presentation Thursday in Rockport. “Harvey didn’t take that away from you.”

The gathering was the culmination of a series of workshops examining how best to provide economic stability after disaster.

Immediate plans include investing in Rockport and Fulton’s downtowns, supporting small businesses and embracing voluntourism — a kind of tourism growing in popularity where visitors seek to combine vacations with volunteering for a cause, the newspaper reported.

“Our goal is really to attract volunteers that will spend money in our community and help with recovery,” said Luis Puron, executive director of Rockport Center for the Arts.

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Information from: Corpus Christi Caller-Times, http://www.caller.com

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