Photo: Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty Images
Photo: Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty Images

Dispatches from Harvey’s Wake

Checking in on Texan surfers in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

It must be maddening to predict a hurricane’s destructive path. Corpus Christi, Texas, the beating heart of the Texan surf scene, was largely spared the destruction seen in areas further north, like Houston, obviously, but also Port Aransas, a surfy beach community just north of Corpus along the gulf coast bend.

“Almost everything 20 miles north of us is practically gone,” said Nate Floyd, of Wind and Wave Watersports, a surf shop in Corpus Christi. “We saw wind gusts of 80 to 100 mph and lost power of. Trees and power lines are down everywhere—it was really ominous—but most of the storm’s power was on the northern band.”

Floyd and his staff were forced to board up their shop and their homes just as the brunt of the storm was beginning to hit, but were still unsure of what kind of damage to expect.

Nate Floyd, in better Texan weather. Photo: Ellis

“It went from a tropical depression to a projected Category-4 hurricane in about two days,” he said. “Nobody really expected it to develop like that.”

A massive shipment of kayaks was on the way to their shop, so the Floyds stayed open waiting for a truck driver who’d been on the road since Maine to offload his delivery. This meant that they were nailing boards to their windows in gale-force winds, about as last minute as it gets. Had they not had such a big delivery on the way, and had it been announced a little earlier that Harvey would be at least a Category-4 storm, Floyd says his family would have left the area entirely.

“When you hear ‘Category-4,’ you leave,” Floyd explained.

Up in Port Aransas, things are far worse. Morgan Faulkner, friend of Floyd’s and one of Texas’ best-known surfers, saw at least five feet of water flood his home, where his business is also based. A friend of Faulkner’s has started a gofundme campaign for them to help rebuild their “Island Market” smoothie and grocery store. Port A, as locals call it, is on a long isthmus of sand between Corpus Christi Bay and the Gulf of Mexico and was swamped by storm surge and rising waters from both sides. For the first couple days after the storm there was a limited voucher program allowing only a few residents to enter the town to inspect damage to their homes. There’s still an evening curfew from 6pm to 8:30 am, forcing people off the streets.

In the meantime, some local Port-A surfers traveled south to South Padre Island. South Padre was almost entirely free of damage from the storm, which generated fun surf in the area in the days after.

Bob Hall Pier, the center of the Corpus Christi surf scene, was also spared any damage, though neighboring harbors, jetties, and sandbar passes may have been significantly altered.

NPR has a great list of organizations, including the Greater Houston Community Foundation which can put you in touch with small, local non-profits, you can donate to if you’d like to help the people of Texas deal with the aftermath of Harvey