THE COASTAL BEND MAGAZINE • January/February 2018 47 46 THE COASTAL BEND MAGAZINE • January/February 2018 If we, in our minds, apply this level of devastation to the heart of Corpus Christi, and consider for a minute the result if Harvey had made landfall at Packery Channel, rather than at the Port A ship channel, and directly hit North Padre Island and Flour Bluff, and then traveled into town up SPID, and into the south side, and downtown, then Portland—then you may begin to think that God re- ally saved Corpus Christi when Harvey made that little turn that sent it twenty miles north. Just because the Coastal Bend escaped a major di- saster from a hurricane for almost fifty years, there is no guarantee that it will not happen again in 2018, or any year. Hurricane Allen in 1980 was one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded, spending more days as a Cat 5 storm than any in history. It went in about a hundred miles south of Corpus Christi over the King Ranch and did little damage to populated areas. A sharp turn to the north and thousands would have died in the Coastal Bend, and the level of devastation could have destroyed the city’s future for good. During the second half of the 19th Century, Galves- ton was the biggest city in Texas, a center of international trade and entry port for immigrants, and at one point, home to eighteen daily newspapers. Galveston competed with the Port of New Orleans in cotton exports, and was among the busiest ports in the United States. The Great Hurricane of 1900 ended all of it, and it took thirty years for the city to recover as a tourism and fishing destination. It is clear that Texas must pass a law requiring the same building standards for waterfront home construc- tion as those passed in Florida after Hurricane Andrew. It is clear that the Texas windstorm program—slash and versus—the federal flood insurance program—versus pri- vate homeowner’s insurance, is an unmitigated disaster that, (1) is formulated and written by and for the insurance companies, and (2) is the result of the virtual disinterest we have in state politics Exactly one week after Harvey struck, Texas House Bill 1744 went into effect. The bill changed the Texas In- North Beach following the Great Hurricane of 1919, in which almost 1,000 Corpus Christians died surance Code regarding the handling of windstorm claims, including provisions that require owners to formally no- tify their carriers before pursuing litigation, enacted a 120- day time limit after the Texas Windstorm Insurance Asso- ciation (TWIA) accepts coverage for your storm damage to challenge their offer, or it’s automatically accepted, along with a few other goodies for the private insurance industry in Texas, of which TWIA is a part. We should ask our elected representatives to state government how they voted on that measure, and why. It is clear that, like Florida did after Hurricane Andrew, Texas must fully re- form its windstorm insurance system. As for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), whose director, William Brock, said on CNN that a lack of trailers for homeless storm victims in Rock- port was in part due to their cost of, “$200,000 to $300,000 each,”—just stop. Take the money, most of which, as we all saw, is spent on staff and facilities, and not on storm victims, and give it to people in the communities that are affected. After the storm, a group was formed called Homes for Displaced Marlins ( in Port A, with the goal of providing trailers to displaced families whose children are enrolled in the Port Aransas Independent School Dis- trict. By the end of the year, the group had provided almost three dozen new trailers to homeless families, for about the cost of four FEMA trailers that never arrived. We shall officially echo the sentiments of one Ms. Samantha McCrary of Rockport, Texas, when asked by a CNN reporter, “If you could talk to the head of FEMA, what would you tell him?” to which she replied (children, cover your ears), “I’d tell him to get his head out of his ass.” The future of the Coastal Bend, which so many of us love and cherish, is solely in our hands—as citizens and as voters—but we must learn from this experience and create paths to real, tangible change in laws and practices. If we let our tribal political instincts get in the way of effectively dealing with the reality that we are living, nothing will be learned from the Hurricane Harvey experience, except how much more painful it was than any of us could have imagined. TCB