Hurricane Harvey Diary
A Daily Account of 242 Days of Recovery at Amelia’s Landing Hotel
On August 22, 2017, Mary and I were in San Antonio on a working vacation. We were enjoying a relaxing few days of R&R after a fantastic 2017 Season. The local television stations were only starting to discuss “the remnants of Tropical Storm Harvey” and whether it would be a rain event for the coast.
72 hours later, it bulldozed Port Aransas as Hurricane Harvey – a devastating Category IV hurricane that destroyed everything in its path -- including our home and our hotel.
This is our story, as I wrote it at the time for our Facebook page.
August 22, 2018
August 26, 2017
We still have no word about Amelia's Landing, but early reports indicate widespread devastation in Port Aransas, Rockport, and Aransas Pass.
Still, we wait...and hope. We will let y'all know the condition of the hotel as soon as we hear. We are closed until further notice.
August 27, 2017 -- Latest update:
This is the best picture we have received yet. Both buildings appear to be largely intact, although it is the opposite side of the building on the right that took the brunt of the 130 mph winds. We expect to find damage on that side, possibly extensive. (That is where Peedee Park, our off leash dog park, is located.)
We also cannot see the windward side of the building on the left. That was also facing the storm, so there will probably be roof damage there, at least.
We expect the pool fence to be destroyed. We are trying to get better pix, but 2-way communication is spotty, at best.
It is now estimated that we had between 6 and 9 feet of water in Port A. (Boats were floating past the hotel, and ended up in the middle of Alister Street out front!) Our hotel was built on dozens of telephone pole-sized "stilts" for that reason! It's why we survived while so many were destroyed.
The hotel is obviously closed until further notice. Right now, we are refugees, stranded in New Braunfels. The government is not allowing anyone back on the island until basic services are restored. There is no electricity, water, sewer, gas, or phone service. Until some of that is restored, we are living in our HEM -- "Hurricane Evacuation Module" -- a 24 year old Dutchmen motorhome.
Keep the faith. We hope to be back soon!
Jay, Mary, and Becca Honeck
Hurricane Harvey Refugees
Day Two of Recovery – August 30, 2017
Yesterday we assessed the situation. I'm afraid it's more grim than we first thought. Water got in every room, which means we had a 5' to 6' storm surge. All the furniture is destroyed.
All the doors and door frames have swollen from water immersion. Getting them open was almost impossible, and now they cannot be closed. All will have to be replaced.
The roof on both buildings must be replaced. The ceilings collapsed in the laundry room and Reno Air Race room.
The Amelia Earhart and Flying Tiger rooms, being on grade, took the worst of it. They are completely shot.
The pool area is destroyed. The pool house had 4' of salt water in it. The pool pump is ruined.
Peedee's Park, our off leash dog park, is ruined. The fences are gone, and the picnic table is wedged upside down in debris against the building. Lots of siding damage back there, along with a broken window or two.
The good news? All of our priceless aviation artwork and memorabilia survived! That stuff took us 40 years to acquire, so starting over would have been hard, at our age!
Also, this was NOT A Houston-style flood. The water came in, and out, very rapidly. The rooms were dry when we got in them, with just a layer of muck on the floor. We MIGHT be able to get away without cutting out sheetrock, which would speed our recovery immensely.
Stay tuned. More as we know it!
Recovery update, Day 3 – August 31, 2017:
Yesterday we finished moving tons of debris into an enormous pile in the South parking lot. Everything from full grown Royal Palm trees (had to drag that with the truck) to brand new, still-in-the-package store items, to all of our furniture and appliances, are in that pile.
We can now get at and around the hotel. Previously, there was so much storm wreckage that we could not safely approach parts of the buildings. The beginning outside clean up is complete, and we hurt in muscles we didn't know we still had! lol
Everything below about 3' inside the hotel is a total loss. Some rooms fared better (tile better than vinyl plank; higher better than lower) but every piece of furniture we own is ruined.
The power of the moving water was amazing. Entire pieces of buildings were washed up against and through the pool fence. License plates were stripped off cars. Rocks from our landscaping were moved hundreds of feet. I'm frankly amazed at what survived.
Today, we will open up all the access doors to get at the underside of both buildings. We will set up generators and big fans, and start the drying process.
More as we know it...
Recovery update, Day 4 – September 1, 2017:
We are in a race against mold, with the removal of anything wet of paramount importance. Everything from refrigerators (25 of them) to bed skirts were saltwater saturated, and must go.
The hotel was inspected by the Texas version of FEMA. 19 rooms are safe to work in, 2 are yellow tagged as caution, and the two on grade (Flying Tigers and Amelia Earhart) were red tagged unsafe. This means the water damage was severe enough to where they won't allow us to have electricity (whenever it is restored) without isolating those rooms. Luckily, each room is on its own circuit, so that's easy.
The debris pile continues to grow, containing everything we've ever owned -- except what was stored in our airplane hangar in ingleside. Miraculously, it survived (with roof damage) and we had lots of family photos, etc, stored there.
The first of many contractors were on site, tarping all the roofs. At least we hope that will prevent more damage from above.
The real danger lurks from below, however. Both buildings were wonderfully insulated on the bottom, which helped with energy bills -- but it's all soaked with salt water and up against the beams and subfloors. It ALL must be removed, an awful job that will cost a fortune. The insurance company gave the go ahead, sight unseen, which tells you the seriousness of the situation. Now, all we need is a contractor!
The water came back on yesterday. It's undrinkable, but we can wash with it. That is a HUGE help.
Finally, if you're considering coming to Port A for Labor Day Weekend, DON'T. You will just get in the way, and we need room for the army of contractors who will be converging here. Besides unless you enjoy flat tires, no drinking water, no air conditioning, no food, and no hotels, it's not much fun here.
More as we know it.
Recovery update, Day 5 – September 2, 2017
We have finished hauling all of the waterlogged furniture and appliances out of the rooms. Interestingly, all of the actual "hotel" furniture (like you would see in an McHotel) was destroyed, while the Pier One Imports furniture -- which is designed to be indoor/outdoor -- survived.
Guess what we will ONLY be buying in future?
All loose ceiling drywall material in the laundry room has been pulled down. We are calling it a "vaulted ceiling" and calling it "good". lol (See pic of Mary and Becca, below.)
We have finished removing any material from the parking lots that could hold nails. We can finally drive anywhere on the property without fear of a flat tire.
Giant fans continue to run, above and below. Unfortunately, we have been totally unable to find a contractor to remove the wet insulation from beneath the buildings, so we may lose them to rot yet. So far, three crews have "promised" -- and never shown up. Some things never change. Good times or bad, contractors never seem to walk the walk.
So, if no one shows up today, Mary and I are suiting up and going under. Wish us luck. It's a job for a 12-man crew.
Finally, and this is frustrating and hard to say to those of you wanting to help: We need help, boots on the ground working, not Looky Loos and Disaster Tourists. The island is gridlocked with people driving their hatchbacks down from Austin, wanting to "help". Great!
We then find out that their idea of "help" is handing out paper towels. WE DO NOT NEED ANY MORE OF THIS KIND OF HELP.
We need strong backs with shovels. We need strong guys willing to work in 100 degree heat and swarms of mosquitos. We do NOT need our only way into Port A gridlocked with people who don't want to break a fingernail. It took us almost FIVE HOURS on the road yesterday, driving just 23 miles around the bay, much of it stuck in an unmoving line of cars. That is time lost that we simply don't have to spare.
If you don't know which end of the shovel to hold, please stay home.
More as we know it.
Recovery Update, Day 6 – September 3, 2017
Progress continues. We now have 12 rooms that we will be able to throw on line for FEMA folks as soon as we have power. They will not be perfect (mattresses on the floor, no hot water) but they will be clean and dry. That is an amazing feat, given that our work crew has been just Mary, Becca, our two Chinese girls, and me.
Yesterday was another day, another set of no-show contractors. We supposedly have another crew coming to work on the insulation removal today. We can only wait and pray that they do.
Last night the starter on our truck failed, stranding us at the Flour Bluff Walmart. We were rescued, but now we've lost the all-important fuel transfer tank (in the back of the pickup) that has been keeping our herd of generators running. Normally I would change a starter myself, but I just don't have time. I will have it towed somewhere tomorrow.
We finally have a remote office set up in Corpus, and I was able to print paychecks for employees that were due to them a week ago. Their patience and understanding has been exemplary.
Here are a few video walk throughs I made yesterday for the insurance company.
And finally, Mary and I want to thank you for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. The sea of relief workers here has been amazing, keeping us fed, hydrated, and iced.
Recovery update, Day 7 – September 4, 2017:
Yesterday was the first time we allowed ourselves to feel optimism for the future -- a contractor actually showed up and started to remove the wet insulation from the bottom of the buildings! We almost smothered the poor guy with gratitude -- we may save the place yet! (See the picture, below)
We still haven't seen any sign of an insurance adjustor. They are so overwhelmed with claims -- 37,000 in our adjacent two counties alone! -- that this makes sense. We are being patient, but it's frustrating nonetheless. We need to know what is covered, and what is not.
We started to remove the vinyl plank flooring that I only recently installed. I went with vinyl plank in some rooms because it is flexible, and the buildings, being built on piers, actually move a bit too much for ceramic tile in the larger rooms (a fact I learned the hard way, when the tile started to crack.)
Unfortunately, vinyl does not breathe, at all. This means it is holding the storm surge flood waters underneath it, and it must ALL go. We have a team of volunteer firemen coming in today to finish removing it all.
We started working to remove floor moulding in the lobby and our living quarters. You can push your finger through the drywall up to about 3'. It all must go.
The government has started to remove debris, dumping it at a huge new transfer station bulldozed out of nothing on Hwy 361. These piles have narrowed the roads so much thst emergency vehicles can barely squeeze through in single file, so it is urgent that they be gone soon.
The only appliance in the entire hotel to survive is our new ice maker. Glad I went with the table-top design!
Finally, another tale of angels. Yesterday we awakened to water dripping on our bed. As you know, we have retreated to our airplane hangar in Ingleside -- the last place we have left to stay. Unfortunately, Harvey blew holes in the hangar roof, too, and it was storming outside. We were despondent, putting tarps over our little in-hangar shanty as best we could, knowing that couldn't work for long.
It stopped raining, and we headed off to work in Port A, not knowing what else to do. The hangar roof is 3 stories tall, and my ladder ends at 2 stories. And besides -- what was I going to fix it WITH?
Friends saw my post of despair, and took action. They obtained a big ladder, scavenged sheet metal from the wreckage of other hangars destroyed at the airport, somehow carried these big sheets of sharp metal up a 3-story ladder, and patched the big holes!
We couldn't believe it. Our place of last retreat, our last stand, our Dunkirk, was saved! See the picture, below.
If anyone ever tells you that angels don't exist, you just tell them the tale of Amelia's Landing. We've seen them -- LOTS of them. And we will never forget them.
More as we know it.
Recovery Update, Day 8 – September 5, 2017
Yesterday was another day of angels. The Annabelle, Texas volunteer fire department (pictured) showed up to work! In 90 minutes, they stripped the flooring out of six rooms. That would have taken Mary and me the rest of the week to do!
We spent much of the day removing floor moulding and knocking holes in walls to allow airflow. With the floors out and holes allowing the rooms to breathe, we hope to save most of them.
The outside crew continued to strip the hotel of all wet material from the bottom. This is an enormous, awful job that will take several more days.
Mary spent hours packing up what could be saved from our home. Everything below 4' must come out -- cabinets, doors, appliances, you name it.
We are hearing that power will be restored in Port A this coming Friday. Once we can get air conditioning running in these rooms, they will quickly dry out. That will be fantastic.
And with that, we are approaching the End of the Beginning. We have removed everything that could cause further damage, stabilized the patient -- and now we must wait. It is going to take an enormous number of contractors to make Amelia's Landing right, but we really can't proceed until the insurance adjustor gets here.
Stay tuned. Reconstruction is just around the bend!
Recovery Update, Day 12 – September 9, 2017:
Since all of the rooms have to be gutted (thanks to wet and saturated subfloors under the tile), and that is going to take half a year, in the interim we have cleaned up the best ones and rented them out by the week/month to local Port Aransans who have lost everything.
Not only will this help our community, it will also get us some much-needed income. We have 6 (of 8) rooms rented.
The water is now drinkable! That's a huge step for the island.
Still no word on natural gas. Our meters were twisted and torn into modern art, and hundreds of others are the same. No hot water till those are fixed.
Of course, we have no working hot water heaters anyway. Luckily, the water coming out of the tap in August is quite toasty.
Island-wide debris clean up has begun. The enormous pile in the South parking lot is mostly gone. The area junk guys are hauling away appliances (after wisely asking). We lost 25 refrigerators. They have all disappeared.
Our hangar insurance inspector was here yesterday. Half the big door was blown off the track, and four holes in the roof need patching. We got off easy compared to most.
We are still waiting for the windstorm adjustor at the hotel. He is due here on the 15th. We cannot proceed with new roofing until he shows up.
Room 1 (Flying Tigers) has been completely gutted, down to the floor joists. We will have that room back first, and it will be beautiful!
The pool is refilling, after shoveling out hundreds of pounds of the most disgusting stuff you have ever seen or smelled. The hot tub, too.
Without a fence we can't legally reopen that area. Gonna need to find a good fence company...
The picture of the light fixture, below, is amazing to me. All of them were full of water, as shown. The windblown rain must have been driven up through the soffit vents and into the little holes for the wiring!
The power of a hurricane is unbelievable. (BTW: We dismantled all of them, let them air dry -- and they are all now working!)
That's it for today. Another 12 hour day ahead...
Recovery Update, Day 15 – September 12, 2017
We have finally been able to move from our airplane hangar in Ingleside into The Stearman Room at the hotel. This will give us an extra 2 hours a day, not wasted in traffic!
It's devastating to wake up in this beautiful, seemingly perfect aviation themed room, knowing that it will have to be gutted to the joists. The tile floor I laid LOOKS perfect, but the subfloor is wet and needs to be cut out and replaced. If we just ignore it, within a year that tile will be cracking out, or worse...
Every rentable room at the hotel is now occupied with refugees, many of whom have lost everything. It is awesome to see their spirit and indomitable will, but I have to wonder how long that will last. Cleanup continues around the island, but then what? Where will all these people go, when we have to tear out these rooms?
I met with the cable TV folks from Spectrum yesterday. It will be MONTHS before cable is restored, and the whole hotel will have to be re-wired. (Their spaghetti on the backside of the buildings was all destroyed.) Of course, now is the time to do it. We will have all-digital cable here when they are done.
Centurylink, the phone company, didn't even answer calls. Virtually every phone line in town is down, so I suspect we won't be getting landlines again any time soon.
Without cable or phone, the only internet here is 4G cell service. No wifi.
I'm getting bids on 7 big hot water heaters. All went under water, despite being on 4' pedestals. In the old days, we would dry them out and relight them. Now, they are all electronic ignition, with a bunch of sensors that salt water completely destroyed.
Oh, well. Our gas meter (along with hundreds of others) was twisted into modern art and torn out of the ground. They can't even give us an estimate on when gas service will be restored in Port A, which means no hot water here.
I managed to get the pool pump to work with some, er, persuasion. It was 6' under salt water, and sounds like a coffee grinder, but at least we can chlorinate the pool water so it doesn't turn black again.
Met with more contractors, got more estimates, got 3 more rooms torn out, shoveled a few more hundred pounds of sediment out of the lots. In other words -- business as the "new usual".
But it was nice to see cars in the parking lot again. (Below.) And it's great to be home!
Recovery Update, Day 18 – September 15, 2017:
If any of our Facebook friends are in the Texas Department of Insurance, or have connections in the insurance industry, we could sure use some advice.
It is over 3 weeks since Harvey wiped us out. In that time we have received NOTHING in writing from our gold-plated flood and windstorm insurance companies. Not even the $15,000 check we were promised "for our immediate needs".
Phone calls and emails go unanswered. Our poor agent is caught in the middle. We have contractors working, and more about to start work, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, based solely on verbal assurances from the adjustors. This is TOTALLY unacceptable, and is putting us at grave financial risk.
We don't know where to turn next. Any advice?
Recovery Update, Day 19 – September 20, 2017:
The office and lobby have been sheetrocked and all outlets replaced. We should be painting tomorrow. Soon, we will have a place to work!
The hangar roof has been repaired. We now have dry offsite storage.
Seven new hot water heaters arrive Monday. Sadly, without any gas service they will only be very expensive paper weights. There is no word on when gas service will be restored, and our meter is still a twisted pretzel of metal.
Roofers are slated to begin work on both buildings Monday. We have been blessed with dry weather since the hurricane, but it will sure be good to get everything waterproof from above!
All new bed bases should arrive this week. Every bed base (they're made out of crappy press board) was saturated and turned to mush. It will be good to get the beds in the 12 rooms we have semi-operational back up to normal height!
All of this is out of pocket, so far, as we have still received no word from insurance. Incredibly, despite tens of thousands of victims awaiting help, they have already reverted to bankers hours. Closed weekends, no answer on the phones.
Meanwhile, in the real world, we labor on. Wet sheetrock continues to be cut out. All of the aviation artwork and memorabilia is being painstakingly removed, wrapped, and stored offsite. Subfloors continue to be cut up. Estimates continue to be received.
Most estimates have been so outrageous that we may as well shutter the hotel. Literally every structure for a hundred miles needs work, and the contractors can smell blood in the hurricane waters.
The funniest/saddest estimate was received from a company purporting to be helping victims by getting materials donated. They came in at $24,000...per ROOM! We just laughed, and cried.
One of the advantages of having renovated this place ourselves is that we know EXACTLY what materials cost, and how long things take -- and this "helpful" contractor was charging at least 200% over any reasonable cost.
With help like that, who needs enemies? lol
So, we are instead working with a small, trusted local contractor. Instead of getting it all done in a few weeks, this all may take take a year, but it will be done. It's our only affordable option.
Around town, the emergency Port A curfew continues. The town is still wide open to looting, but State Troopers are here in vast numbers, thank goodness. It's eerie to sit out front on a beautiful Saturday night and see only police cars on Alister Street.
The ferry continues to run limited hours. Enormous piles of debris line every street, despite their best efforts to clear them. The more they haul away, the more we seem to make.
Life goes on. More as we know it.
Recovery Update, Day 20 – September 21, 2017:
Phone and internet service were restored to us yesterday. Only one of our Wifi transmitters seems to be functional, but that's enough to keep our dozen refugee guests on Facebook! :-)
Still no word from our flood insurance. Our agent is "checking on the claim again" this morning. We aren't holding our breath.
Good news: Our business interruption insurance is kicking in. Bad news: They are maxing us out at 61 days of coverage.
Why? Because business interruption is part of windstorm, and the only documentable windstorm damage is to the roof and fences. When told that the hotel will be down for 6 months to a year, their response was "We don't cover flood damage."
In their world, 61 days of coverage for roof loss is "generous".
We ordered 12 new refrigerators yesterday. Once we get bed bases, fridges and (most importantly) hot water back in our rooms, we will be able to reopen those 12 rooms for regular business. The other 11 are in various stages of demolition.
Roofers will be on-site today. There's $29,000 gone, poof!
We picked up 5 prehung solid core doors for the office and house area. Those will be installed today. Progress is incremental but continuous.
The Mustang Room was completely demolished yesterday. You can now see through the walls from room 20 to the exterior wall of room 19, which is bizarre.
One of the three huge debris piles was picked up yesterday, making room for...more debris! lol
More as we know it.
Recovery Update, Day 22 – September 23, 2017:
Still nothing from insurance. We met with our local banker, and she confirmed that not a single one of her business clients had received any sort of settlement yet from flood insurance. You really are completely on your own after a natural disaster like this.
35 new bed bases arrived today. (See photo) Those will allow us to get the beds back up to normal height in the 14 rooms we are currently renting -- a touch of normalcy!
The roofers are here! (See photo.) After sweating the weather for 22 days, knowing that a heavy rain could kill us, J3 Construction from Dallas is making us all nice and watertight again -- at least from above. They started when they arrived at 5 PM last night and worked till dark -- and were up there banging away again at 7 AM. Just an amazing work ethic.
7 new hot water heaters arrived. Now, to get them installed for any sort of reasonable price.
The gas company finally came out to look at our storm-mangled meter (after repeated calls) -- and declared that we had to fix damage to "our side" of the pipes before they could proceed! As if they couldn't have told us that two weeks ago? Got the plumber fixing that today.
The Port Aransas city inspector has decided thst we must "upgrade" our shower drains to 2" (from 1.5") drains, to meet current code. Total extra cost: Unknown.
He has also decided that we must change out any metal electrical outlet boxes to plastic. Total extra cost: Unknown. None of these capricious changes to perfectly functional standards will be cheap, adding thousands of dollars to our tail of woe.
The demolition crews are really picking up the pace, getting each room torn down to the floor joists in just one day. (See photo.) It's amazing to see the hotel's "bones" like this.
The office is textured and ready for paint. Soon we will have a place to work again!
Progress. It's inexorably slow, but it is happening. It all comes down to a race between our savings running out and the insurance money arriving. The next steps -- rebuilding the rooms -- will vastly exceed our ability to pay.
More as we know it...
Woot! Major recovery milestone! – September 24, 2017
It's Day 23, and hot water has been restored to the North building!
New gas main, new pipeline down to the first elbow, water blown out of the lines, all new water heaters, new shut off valves and feedlines.
Recovery Update, Day 24 – September 25, 2017:
WE HEARD FROM AN INSURANCE COMPANY! No, really! One month after Hurricane Harvey hit, we have received a call acknowledging our claim and that money will be forthcoming! Woot!
Now, of course, we were told that in-person by an adjuster over two weeks ago, so we are trying not to get too excited -- but it would seem that our survival is slightly more likely today.
In other good news...gas service was restored yesterday, but not until after some extraordinary efforts. When the gas main was torn off by flying or floating debris, it ripped the pipe underground -- on OUR side of the main. This meant some plumbing wizardry was required from plumber extraordinaire Donnie Dickens, who somehow managed to dig down to an elbow, disconnect it, and thread another one on.
Then, we discovered that the pipe -- all 200+ feet of it -- had filled with water. So with Jay at one end, and Donnie at the other, compressed air was used to blow out that (and all the other) lines.
Then, the all important pressure test was performed. If there was a leak anywhere underground, it would have meant tearing up parking lots. Thankfully, it tested okay! Whew!
Then, the fun of hauling out old (and heaving in new) water heaters. All the heaters are on pedestals to protect them (ha!) from flooding. That meant dead lifting them straight up 3', over the gas feedline, into closets on the back side of the building. There was no way us old guys were able to do that, so we recruited a couple of young bucks that our building contractor was using on the demolition crew. An hour later, it was done! Hot water was restored!
Today we will attack the South Building, which is much easier, and the laundry room, which is not. We should have hot water everywhere by nightfall.
In less stellar news, our roof is completely torn off, with rolls of felt the only thing between us and total loss. Unfortunately, our roofer is from the Dallas area and apparently did not know that (in coastal areas) the law requires a windstorm inspection during and after construction. When informed of this, they quickly learned that all the windstorm inspectors are (naturally) behind, with thousands of roofs being replaced. The soonest they could get here to inspect their work is next Monday!
So, incredibly, work will stop on our roofs and we are wide open to the elements for the next 72 hours. Pray that our dry spell continues!
In better news, the front office should be done and open today. We MIGHT even have a few nightly rooms available (in our least damaged rooms) by October 1st! Woot!
And, finally, it was our daughter's (Becca) 24th birthday yesterday. (She has worked at the front desk for years, and many of you have met her.) We put on some clean clothes and drove into undamaged Corpus Christi for a few hours of normal human interaction back in The World. It felt very weird and wonderful to eat something other than refugee food and to sit on soft chairs. It's amazing what we all take for granted, until it's gone!
So, progress continues, in the form of two steps forward, one step back -- but we continue to move in the right direction. Stay tuned!
Recovery update, Day 26 – September 27, 2017:
All good news today!
The office is done and ready for artwork and airplanes! At last, we have one little 15 x 24' space back to normal!
It wasn't easy. The walls, phones, and electrical outlets were all destroyed, and the bottom of our beautiful front counter was turned to mush by salt water. But persistence pays off. We replaced the bottom of the counter with 2 x 6 real wood (replacing the pressboard that turned to mush in water -- picture, below.)
The only downside? It's now 1/2" taller, which makes Mary look even shorter. I may have to build a platform... :-)
We received a small but welcome check from TWIA, the windstorm insurance guys. The first of many, we hope, and our first real income in 26 days! Woot! It will keep us going another week or so.
Interestingly, we still haven't received the check Flood Insurance authorized for our "immediate needs" weeks ago.
After some fiddling around, all rooms in both buildings have consistent hot water. A new gas line had to be run to feed 3 of the heaters. Can't wait to see THAT bill!
The giant coil of telephone wire that has been tripping everyone for a month has been removed from the North parking lot. It took an angle grinder to cut that guy wire they use to support the phone cable. My Sawzall wouldn't touch it. That's some tough stuff!
For the first time since the hurricane, our window neon sign is lit! We just had to clean up the corroded prongs on the cord a bit, and Becca and Seven had to clean the blinds and window. (Pictures, below.)
Roofing continues, after a break, as they continue to apply the rolls of roofing felt. These guys make us look like slackers, starting at first light and continuing after sunset. (Picture, below)
Your weather prayers have worked. Despite rain everywhere around, we have remained dry so far! If it had hit yesterday, the South building was wide open...
We have received several fence estimates. It's going to cost over $11,000 just to rebuild the three fences. It boggles the mind how much damage this storm caused!
On a bittersweet note, Cowboy Camp David, the tent city of Angels (across from American Bank on Alister Street) who have fed us and kept us hydrated for 26 straight days, announced that they will be closing Wednesday. These wonderful volunteers came from everywhere and served three square meals a day to hundreds (thousands?) of us, when we had no other options. What amazing people!
More as we know it. Stay tuned...
Recovery Update, Day 29 – September 30, 2017:
It has become evident that Port A is now the forgotten war zone. Half the people seem to be clueless about what has happened here, presuming that everything is all better "by now". The other half have completely forgotten that the hurricane ever happened.
Take a close look at the first photo, below. That is one of three debris fields at Amelia's Landing. It was taken TODAY. Every business and home in Port Aransas has a similar debris field in front of it, full of nails, metal shards, and broken glass. Sidewalks are impassable, streets are slightly better.
Please don't call and act miffed that we don't have a vacancy. We are full of homeless people, with tourism on indefinite hold. Until the government is able to clear these mountains of debris, the city is a dangerous, seriously un-fun place to be.
That said...progress continues at the hotel! Our front office is nearly back to normal, and we have even started putting all the airplanes back on the shelves! (Picture, below) Our living area is sheetrocked, the plumber has started work on the Amelia Earhart and Flying Tigers Rooms (we are getting rid of ALL the old fiberglass bath tubs, installing real tile showers!), and the roofers are still banging away. In a couple of weeks we hope to have a few rooms for y'all to enjoy!
We celebrated Jay's 59th birthday by dining at the refugee camp down the street, Cowboy Camp David. These angels were slated to be shut down today, but they have received a 10 day extension, thank goodness. They have fed, hydrated, and hugged us for 29 straight days, and I honestly do not know how Port A would have survived without them.
They continue to serve 1500 meals PER DAY here, to hungry Port Aransans. Think about that, in a town of just 3500 people. One month after the hurricane.
So, life goes on. Stay tuned...more as we know it.
Recovery Update, Day 32 – October 3, 2017:
Good news! We finally received an initial payment from our flood insurance today! Our survival until next season is somewhat more assured.
They even sent the $15,000 they promised "for our immediate needs" (food, clothes, medicine, shelter) three weeks ago. lol
Bad news: Most of the checks are made out to us, our bank -- and the SBA, who has a small part of our mortgage. Incredibly, in order to deposit them, our bank must now physically SEND THOSE CHECKS to Austin, so SBA can physically endorse them.
No, really! Welcome to 1965! This might take another week.
This procedure is hard to fathom, in the year 2017, but let this be a lesson to you all. In the event of a natural disaster, there won't be insurance, or FEMA, or Red Cross to help you. There will be many individual angels, and several small groups who band together to offer assistance -- but mostly you will be entirely on your own and must have sufficient money and supplies on hand to survive at least a month...or else. It is that simple.
Luckily, we did. Even still, paying contractors out of pocket (to secure them, and so they could start working) meant burning through all of our winter reserves. Many people here are stuck waiting for insurance and haven't even started to rebuild!
On the brighter side, our roof is done! This removes a HUGE amount of stress from us, since a major rain storm would have caused much more damage at any time. We are now awaiting the all-important Windstorm Certification from an engineer. Without THAT, we have nothing, really, so keep your fingers crossed.
Our living quarters are completely dry walled and mudded. Once everything is sanded, we can paint, apply trim, and finally go home! Woot! Living out of a suite case is getting pretty old...
Of course, we lost every stick of furniture, all of our kitchen cabinets, and all the built-in closet shelves, so it will feel pretty big and empty for a while. It's amazing how huge a kitchen is without any cabinets! lol
The Amelia Earhart Room and Flying Tigers Room are both getting their new 1 1/8th inch tongue-and-groove subfloors installed. This is a full 3/8th inch thicker than our old subfloors, which will make for a quieter and firmer "feel" in these rooms. (We will be using this in ALL the rooms, as we systematically gut them.) The plumbing is all new (no more ducking to take a shower!), and the tiled showers are planned out. All we need is walls, furniture, beds...lol
The collapsed housekeeping room ceiling has been repaired. We will paint it today, and then we can put the lights back up. No more laundry in the dark!
We have given the go-ahead to the sole bidder on our three destroyed fences, with the pool fence being his top priority. We cannot legally reopen the pool area until that fence is complete.
We are still seeking bids on siding. The entire hotel will need to be resided, so if you know any siding companies, send them our way!
Last night was the first night after the curfew was rescinded. We all braced for trouble, but none was apparent. The street was quiet as a church mouse, thankfully, and all the available rooms were full. (Picture, below.)
The ferry system is back to running 24/7, and is TOTALLY messed up. TXDOT is sending their dump trucks full of our storm debris that away, and bogging the system way down. Long waits are the norm, so if you plan on visiting Port A anytime soon, take the island road from Corpus instead.
Slowly but surely, life is returning to the island!
Stay tuned...more as we know it.
Recovery Update, Day 36 – October 7, 2017:
Progress continues. We spent a few hours replacing all the soffit vents that were blown out by the 130 mph winds. (Pictured.) The power of that wind was just astonishing.
The sheetrock in our living quarters is ready for texture. Painting and trim aren't far off! And we've ordered a bed! Once we move back home, some sense of normalcy can return.
Insurance is still giving us the run around. Because part of our mortgage is with the SBA, they are requiring a bureaucrat in Austin to physically endorse the check -- and they won't endorse it without "proof of damage".
No, really! It boggles the mind how completely screwed up this process is. We can now waste hours and days reassembling all the proof that we had to assemble for the insurance company in the first place. Do they really think the insurance company sent us that check on a whim??
One thing is certain: If your banker recommends using SBA, as ours did 8 years ago, run the other way. We will never use them again.
Last night we attended the National Night Out with our local and visiting police and fire fighters at the (mostly intact) Roberts Point Park. It was a great evening, and afterwards we were able to drive around our empty island for the first time in weeks. The views were startling and sad, as the full extent of the hurricane damage is only now becoming obvious. Literally every structure seems to have been damaged.
The old Red Roof Inn (formerly Travelodge, and other names before that) is just...gone. (Pictured, below.) Parked next to it are 58 golf carts -- all totalled by the surge. It is an incredible sight to see. The sights around town are too depressing, but we have to remind ourselves that every debris pile is there because someone is working to make it!
On a brighter note, we unloaded 120 pounds of black dirt into our cement Farley Boat planter (pictured). Incredibly, the storm surge had scoured out all the plants and most of the dirt! It won't be long now before Mary fills it with flowers again.
As described in earlier updates, the storm surge actually came from BEHIND the city, on the BAY side. As a result, all the homes built as far from the Gulf as possible that were thought to be "safer" were absolutely devaststed. Last spring Mary and I had looked at a condo over near Charlie's Pasture, on the channel side of the island. We thought we might move offsite and hire a night manager -- but ultimately rejected it as too costly for a glorified apartment.
The picture, below, shows that condo today. We are SO lucky to have given that a pass. It is just....gone.
Thank goodness our roof is done, as we've had ample rain. It's so sad to see so many tarped roofs in town, many now flapping in the breeze. There will surely be more water damage in these roofless structures.
We are still awaiting the all-important Windstorm Certification from our roofer. The inspection has occurred, but without that magic piece of paper we have nothing. Still keeping our fingers crossed.
Finally, today marks the end of an era -- perhaps the End of the Beginning? -- as Cowboy Camp David is closing down after dinner tonight. This refugee camp, run by angels (in the form of many volunteers) has fed us, hugged us, and kept us hydrated since that first terrible week. As more and more restaurants and our grocery store reopen, the crying need for food and water has diminished, and these wonderful angels can finally go back to their own lives.
They quite literally saved us, and we will forever be in their debt. Many thanks to those who supported them financially!
Stay tuned. More as we know it.
Recovery Update, Day 40 -- October 11, 2017:
In the ultimate gut punch, we received our 2017 property tax bill yesterday. It certainly took the wind out of our sails. It takes a special kind of person to mail enormously increased tax bills to people standing in the ruins of Port Aransas. The parasites have promised that our values will be reassessed and lowered "for 2018" -- but how many property owners here will survive that long?
Our airport (TP McCampbell Airport, 9 miles from Port A in Ingleside) looks pretty much the same as it did immediately after the hurricane. (Picture, below, was taken yesterday.) Hangars that were only slightly damaged, like ours, have been mostly repaired, but the destroyed hangars remain untouched.
All vertical surfaces on the hotel that were facing the storm look like they were sandblasted -- because they were! So Jay got up on that brand new roof and painted them. That job will take a few more days to finish. (Pictured.)
The enormous pile of storm debris on our back street was mostly picked up yesterday! Woohoo! It had grown so high that we couldn't throw stuff up on it anymore -- many thanks and a big hooray for the guys that have been working 7 days a week to clean up Port A! (Pictured.)
With many more rooms to gut, that pile won't be small for long.
The gas line we thought was fixed had to be blown out again, after our laundry room water heater kept going out. That involved digging up Peedee's Park, cutting the line, and running compressed air through it again. It's amazing how much water got into that block-long series of pipes, and how hard it's been to clear them.
We replaced the rain gutters on the North building yesterday. Finding those plastic rackets was unfun -- it was a special order, and $5.00 apiece! But they are done. (Pictured.)
The new Amelia Earhart and Flying Tigers Rooms are a week or so from completion! (Pictured.) The new sub-flooring is 1 1/8" thick (up from 3/4"), and, wow, what a difference. You will really notice how solid the rooms feel when you come visit!
We continue to receive inquiries about purchasing gift certificates -- thank you all! This is the best way to help us right now, as we are still chock-full of locals who have lost everything.
These are the people who tapped your beer, or brought you that plate of shrimp last time you were here, and they still have no where else to go. We are trying to accommodate them as they are forced to extend their stay while waiting for more permanent solutions that don't seem to be happening. I'm afraid we are going to lose all of our service workers here, which will make recovery even harder.
We should be able to move into our living quarters this week -- we are painting today. It's amazing how huge it is, without furniture, appliances, kitchen cabinets, etc! After living out of a suitcase for 47 days, we are eager to go home. All we need is our bed to be delivered!
Every week a few more businesses reopen. The sound of roofers pounding is everywhere. Progress, slow though it may seem, is happening all over town.
And, of course, the beach takes no notice. It's been cleaned of storm debris, and is lovely -- although the new cut on the South side of the South jetty is causing conniptions for everyone. It's going to take hundreds of tons and weeks of effort to fill that in. Same with the new cut in Charlie's Pasture that has made much of that park inaccessible.
That's all for today. More as we know it!
Day 44, October 12, 2017
We are officially almost sort of open for y'all to come visit! lol
We are starting to cycle out of our "homeless shelter" stage, as local residents are finding permanent solutions. This is opening up a limited number of rooms for you, although our services are still not up to pre-hurricane standards. No breakfast, no cable, no pool. Prices are lower to reflect this.
Yesterday we welcomed our very first non-resident, non-emergency guest! It felt really great! Call us at 361-749-5572 to check availability.
In other news...All of our replacement furniture (for our living quarters) arrives tomorrow! Guess we better have that area done today! lol
The only thing we saved was our dining room table and our headboard. Everything else was destroyed. I sure hope insurance comes through!
But, at last, we will be home. There won't be a kitchen for a while (another month for cupboards), we have no appliances, and closet doors are on order -- but at last we will be back where we belong.
Shower pans for the first two new rooms arrived, and shower doors are coming today. A few pallets of tile aren't far behind. Let the tiling begin!
Electrical upgrades and repairs continue. All of the wiring beneath room 19 was mangled by debris, so that's been replaced. Since that feeds the pool area, we had that line upgraded from 110 to 220 volts -- which means we can get a bigger/better hot tub for y'all!
Which is good, because when we plugged in the old hot tub yesterday, for the first time since Harvey, it did precisely nothing. When we took the access panel off to investigate, a few gallons of moldy salt water gushed out. The motor and all the electronics are shot.
I'd feel bad about it, but I've always hated that hot tub. It was too small, and being only 110 volts it could not retain its 103° temperature if we left the cover off. And 90% of guests failed to put the cover back on -- so it was never hot enough.
A 220 volt tub should resolve that problem. Sadly, it's not covered by insurance... :-(
We finally have a siding contractor giving us bids. That bid will easily push us over the $500,000 mark for damages. :-( It's just incredible how it all adds up.
The pool fence people should be here tomorrow! Once we have a pool fence we can legally reopen that area, which will be great.
Our electrician is starting to rewire all the rooms for cable TV. All of that wiring was destroyed when contractors tore the wet insulation off the underside of both buildings and will have to be completely redone.
The good news? It will be better cable, ready for all-digital signals. There still won't be anything on TV worth watching, but it will be a really clear picture! lol
In more amusing news, someone actually called the cops on our contractor, after seeing his guys rinsing their drywall tray at the curb with a hose. The police, of course, sent three squads! We got called into it, as owners, and for 20 minutes there was great consternation and much official fluffery as the gendarmes tried to respond to a complaint about mud in the street.
Port Aransas looks like it's been nuked, and someone actually called to complain about mud being rinsed down the storm sewer! lol
This sort of thing can only be laughed at, or you might go crazy.
That's all for today. More as we know it...
October 14, 2017 -- Recovery update, Day 46 since we were allowed back on the island:
Today, we go home! The furniture was delivered yesterday, we scraped and cleaned tile floors till late last night...and our bed is to be delivered this morning. Woot!
The rest of the living quarters are still a shambles, and we won't have a kitchen for another few weeks, but we won't be living out of a suitcase anymore. 53 days is about 45 days too long. :-)
In other news...rewiring the hotel for cable TV continues. They finished about half the rooms yesterday. Each room will have its own drop, so we will be ready for digital and other good stuff!
The fence company finally showed up! They finished about half the pool fence. When that's complete we can reopen the pool area, which will make our guests very happy, indeed.
(Anyone got a connection in the hot tub world? Our old one is dead, killed by salt water immersion, so we will need to replace it.)
The other fences will have to wait until the debris fields are cleaned up. No off leash dog park until that happens. :-(
Subfloor in is going into two more rooms. Man, that 1 1/8" floor weighs a ton! But it's like standing on the sidewalk -- solid as can be. It will be awesome.
The tile has arrived. Our contractor managed to find the exact tile Jay used to tile all the rooms during the 5 year renovation from 2010 - 2015. We really liked that stuff, so it's awesome that he found it.
Still no word from the sign company, so we put up a little banner. Nothing more has been heard from any siding company either. It's funny, you can't give money away down here! lol
Jay spent an hour on the phone dealing with our insurance nightmare. Our reimbursement check for $125,000 is still stuck in Austin, pending SBA's "approval to endorse". They will let us know if our "proof of damage" is adequate for them to bother to endorse it -- so we can get the money to fix the hotel so we can pay them back.
Remember this if you ever have have a banker suggest using SBA. Run the other way, if they suggest that!
That's all for today. More as we know it!
October 17, 2017 -- Recovery update, Day 49:
Today marks another major milestone: We should have the pool area open by 6 PM tonight! Woot! (Pictured, below.)
It seems strange that we couldn't open the pool without a fence, since a pool fence is meant to keep people OUT, but that's the law. It will be great to have that area back!
We are still shopping for a new hot tub, though, and our grill and most of the pool furniture was washed away in the surge. But we are getting there!
Tile was laid in the Amelia Earhart and Flying Tigers rooms yesterday! The new showers are installed, and will look great when the tiling is finished. We should have these two brand new rooms on line soon -- we are waiting on the new front doors to arrive.
Subfloor is going in the Red Baron Room, and all plumbing and electrical is complete. The Reno Air Race and Blackbird rooms won't be far behind. Once we get some of these new rooms back on line, we will really be cooking!
Incredibly, we are STILL waiting for windstorm certification of our new roof. The contractor is blaming the engineering firm. We are stuck in the middle. Without that certification, we have no legal roof, so keep your fingers crossed.
More incredibly, we are STILL waiting for SBA to simply endorse the insurance check we sent them to sign. Without that $125,000, we will soon be dead in the water. Again, keep your fingers crossed that the bureaucrats figure it out.
We finally received a formal bid to re-side both buildings. $115,000! Yes, you read that right. First we laughed, then we cried. If anyone reading this has connections to a reputable siding firm, please send them our way!
We finally finished moving out of the Stearman Room -- our home for the last month. Although it is a lovely room, it sure feels great to be back home. We still have lots to do (cleaning every tile with a scraper and Super Clean; new drapes; hanging artwork; waiting on kitchen cabinets and appliances), but our bedroom and living room are furnished and complete. It's all downhill from there!
We continue to hear good and bad news around town. For every business that reopens, we seem to hear about another that has thrown in the towel. Castaways, just down the street, is going to be bulldozed -- it's apparently too far gone -- and Drop Anchor won't be reopening. Castaways is moving across the street into the damaged but savable Phoenix building, while Phoenix itself is downsizing and moving out of town, out by Island Moorings subdivision on Hwy 361.
We DO have a few rooms available for tourists now, and the fishing and sea shelling have reportedly been fantastic! Call us at 361-749-5572 to check availability.
That's all for today. More as we know it!
October 18, 2017
Woot! Exactly 50 days after we were allowed back on the island, following Hurricane Harvey, our pool area is OPEN, thanks to B&C fencing!
Let the painting commence!
October 20, 2017 -- Recovery Update, Day 52:
Yesterday was a Red Letter day in several ways. First and foremost, we got our new sign installed! Woohoo! We are no longer "the unlabeled hotel"! (Picture, below.)
Second, for the cost of some beer money, the sign guy installed a new flagpole rope to replace the one that was shredded by Hurricane Harvey. At last, Old Glory (and, soon, the Texas flag) is flying over Amelia's Landing once again.
With our flag flying proudly over the newly reopened pool area, and that big, beautiful sign out front, we can honestly say that things are moving in the right direction!
It wasn't all positive, though. Our insurance agent informed us that, due to exemptions for "wind caused damage" in the fine print, neither our sign nor our fences will be covered. Had they been hit by a truck, both would be paid for, but, oh, sorry, we simply don't cover the most likely type of damage.
Well, to be honest, they WOULD have covered it, if we had a competent insurance agent. Despite doing a "comprehensive review" of our insurance policy last spring (at our request) that we passed with flying colors, she failed to identify these easily filled (for a few extra bucks) loopholes in our 1.5" thick, 10,000 word commercial policy.
We will be filling those loopholes in the future...with another insurance agent.
In better news, the $125,000 check from our flood insurance that the SBA has been sitting on for 2 weeks, demanding "proof of damage" before they would endorse it (no, really!), has finally moved out of that Austin-based bureacracy. They have now MAILED IT to our bank here in Port A, which means we might have access to those desperately needed funds early next week.
That should help immensely, as yesterday we signed agreements to rebuild the next 5 rooms, at $20,000 per room. Plus plumbing, electrical, and furniture, of course.
In other news, another siding company showed up to measure for bids. We will see if they improve on the other companies who have so far either never bid, or who have submitted bids that were so high as to prove their unwillingness to do the job.
In better news, our new roof received final windstorm certification yesterday! This process, usually invisible and painless, was rendered a nightmare because we used an out-of-area roofing contractor who was unfamiliar with the coastal permitting process. On the plus side, however, they appear to have done a fine job, and we are one of the first businesses in Port A with a finished roof.
So, the beat goes on. Every day we move forward, sometimes an inch, sometimes a yard. As long as the direction is always forward, we won't give up!
More as we know it...
October 22, 2017 -- Recovery Update, Day 54:
Cable TV has been restored to the hotel! (Pictured, below.) Better yet, with all new, upgraded lines into each room, we are ready for the digital revolution. This type of line can bring all sorts of cool services into the rooms. Stay tuned on that.
The sign guys came back and welded us a new message sign. This was a difficult job, done in a precarious position -- basically hanging in mid-air -- but Sal at Soto Signs is an old pro and had it done in an hour.
We, of course, immediately put up a message telling the world what we thought about Hurricane Harvey (pictured). That was the censored version. lol
We actually had four regular guests with us this weekend! It was wonderful to talk with folks from outside of the area, simply because it truly gets depressing and a bit too inward looking when all you see is hardship and despair every day.
Our homeless families are really starting to get frustrated, and, sadly, many are leaving the area entirely. It's especially hard for them when they know that there are FEMA trailers stacked up uselessly at the Rockport Airport.
With the pool open, and cable restored, we are ALMOST ready for prime time. We still can't do our signature delivered breakfast -- the breakfast prep room was destroyed and we still don't have freezers or running water -- but everything else is back to almost normal. We are just half the size we were before the storm.
Peedee's Park -- our off-leash dog park -- is on indefinite hiatus. All the fences were destroyed and the hardware store (that formed the North wall of the park) is scheduled to be torn down. We haven't met the new owners yet, but we are hopeful that they will still let us run our doggy guests in the park, once they are finished building their new business.
Which, BTW, is rumored to be a day spa! Can you imagine how great that will be? We are ecstatic to hear this -- won't it be awesome to get a full massage, with mani/pedi, just 50' from your room??
And, finally, bravely, little Port A held its annual Old Town Festival yesterday. The city struggled mightily and got most of the debris fields cleared along the traditional parade route, and there were quite a few entries in the parade -- including us! Our '52 Pontiac, complete with a 65 year old police siren, was the hit of the parade!
We ran out of candy to throw, which is is a pretty good measure of success. :-)
That's it for today. More as we know it.
October 26, 2017 -- Recovery update, Day 58:
The Texas and American flags are flying proudly once again! (Pictured.) It's amazing how long this sort of little stuff takes, but, one step at a time, normalcy is returning to the hotel.
Materials for the next 5 rooms arrived yesterday. (Pictured.) And when we say "materials", we mean everything down to the subfloor and some replacement joists! The two rooms the contractors have been working on for the last 5 weeks are beautiful and should be on-line when the beds arrive in a few days -- watch for pix to come!
Two coats of paint have been applied to our new pool fence. This enormously futzy job took us several days, but, wow, it looks awesome. The pool is fully open!
We finally had time to reassemble the hotel's surveillance system. (Pictured.) We eagerly went back to August 25th, to watch as the hurricane blew into Port Aransas like a bulldozer and saw...nothing. The wind knocked the power out a full 10 hours before the eye of the hurricane slammed us, so all we saw was some unremarkable rain and wind.
To say we were disappointed is an understatement. There are SO many mysteries we wanted to solve by watching that video. Where did all of our pool furniture go? What happened to our big wood bench and the enormously heavy tripod chalkboard? How did the sand-filled concrete cigarette urn (so heavy we couldn't lift it) simply...disappear? How did our dumpster end up two doors down? What did a 6' storm surge look like?
Alas, no one seems to have caught any of this on video. I was hoping someone on the island had a battery back-up system on their surveillance cameras!
Although we still have not received insurance money for the roof
(that we paid out-of-pocket), it is supposedly "in the mail". Better yet, the SBA in Austin has FINALLY endorsed the flood insurance check for $125K that they have been sitting on for weeks. Since we've already spent that, and more, our chances of survival just took a big leap forward! Hooray!
And, finally, see that picture of the beach, below? We took that last night at sunset. It was the first time since the storm that we took the time to walk the beach -- and it was STUNNING, as you can see. We napped to the sound of those gentle waves, and enjoyed the most relaxing night we've had in two months.
You can see it, too! We are opening rooms up on a very limited basis to tourism. C'mon down -- the beach is AMAZING.
October 28, 2017 -- Recovery update, Day 60:
WE ARE OPEN FOR TOURISM!
Exactly two months after we were allowed back on the island, after Hurricane Harvey, we have reached a point in our reconstruction where we feel confident to invite y'all back to stay with us! Woo-hoo!
Until now, we have been providing emergency housing to homeless Port Aransans. Slowly, gradually, they have been finding permanent housing, and tomorrow half a dozen of them are moving out. It is heart-warming to see our locals getting back to a normal life -- and this frees our rooms up for you!
The only thing we have not yet been able to restore is our delivered breakfast. Our breakfast prep room was destroyed, along with all the appliances, so it will be a bit before we get that back -- and we only have half the rooms we had before (with new rooms coming on weekly) -- but otherwise, Amelia's Landing Hotel is BACK in business!
Come on down -- the beach is AMAZING, after being untouched for so long! And more businesses are reopening every day! (Winton's Candy opened yesterday!)
FYI: We will be slowly putting rooms out for on-line booking, but (as always) the cheaper option is to just call is at 361-749-5572 and reserve with us directly. Hope to see y'all soon!
November 3, 2017
FIRST ROOM BACK – Day 66
Woot! We passed the final inspection with flying colors -- and the room was rented for the weekend two nanoseconds later! :-)
I give you...our NEW Amelia Earhart Room. With all new everything, and a beautiful tiled full-sized shower!
The newest hotel room in Texas!
November 14, 2017
SECOND ROOM BACK – Day 77
We give you...the newest hotel room in Texas, the brand, new Flying Tigers Room!
This room commemorates the brave Americans who fought the Japanese before Pearl Harbor. It is new down to the sand beneath the room, and includes several nice upgrades from the "old" room (which was only 4 years old) including a beautiful tile shower, a hanging bar for clothes, and more!
It's available RIGHT NOW. Call 361-749-5572 to reserve your stay!
November 23, 2017 -- Recovery Update, Day 86:
It's been a while since we updated our progress -- and what better day to do it than Thanksgiving Day? :-)
Another milestone was passed this week when Fence #2 (of 3) went up. (Pictured) This fence was twisted out of the ground like a pretzel by Harvey's storm surge, and getting that awful wreckage removed from out front has gone a long ways toward improving our morale.
The Red Baron, Reno Air Race, Blackbird, Wright Brothers, and Piper Rooms are coming along slowly. (Pictured). If you look closely at the doors, you can see storm-blown weeds still stuck to them!
Those doors are all being replaced, as they swelled and cracked badly after being soaked in salt water. Everything in the rooms from the sand up 4' is brand new. The upgraded floors (1 1/8" versus 3/4") are AMAZING, and the new showers will be sooo much nicer than the old fiberglass tubs.
Unfortunately, our contractor has been unable to get enough help to stay on schedule, and we are now far, far behind our targeted completion date. Because of this, we will soon have a second company starting demolition and reconstruction on five more rooms. This should get us back on track for a grand reopening by Spring Break 2018.
Keep your fingers crossed. We've come a long way, but we have so far to go! There's certainly plenty of work for both contractors!
Still, all in all, we were so very lucky. Many of our fellow hoteliers are still closed and are looking at an even longer road back. Some may never reopen.
Every day, in every way, we are getting a bit better! All 16 rentable rooms are rented tonight, and the turkey is in the oven! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
November 27, 2017
Recovery Update, Day 90: Phase II begins.
J3 Construction is tearing these rooms out like crazy. We currently have two companies renovating ten rooms!
This room -- the Lindbergh Room --- was rented only yesterday! lol
November 28, 2017 -- Day 91
How nice is this? KPAB (Keep Port Aransas Beautiful) just gave us a $300 gift certificate in recognition of our assistance to the community after Hurricane Harvey!
Thanks, Julie Findlay!
December 8, 2017 -- Day 101 – SNOW!
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer made an unscheduled stop at Amelia's Landing this morning!
The last time it snowed on the island was 2004!
Day 114 -- December 22, 2017
Recovery Update -- Day 119 (114 since they allowed us back on the island).
It's been a month I posted an update on what's happening here in Port Aransas since the hurricane. I'm happy to report that progress has been steady, if slow!
The hotel remains open for business, with 10 rooms (8 singles and 2 doubles) open for your enjoyment. The other 13 rooms are in various stages of reconstruction. The picture, below, shows the Mustang Room yesterday -- yes, that's the sand you're looking at -- but (for example) the Reno Air Race and Red Baron Rooms are within a week of reopening! (See one of the new showers, below.) So we are hopeful! (Have you made your New Year's Eve plans yet?)
Mary and I have finally finished rebuilding our living quarters. The last step was drapes (pictured) from JC Penney. Yes, I know, that company is nearly bankrupt, but their drapery department is the best, and we have used them in three different states over the last 30 years. They were wonderful again, and our home is finally back to normal, with all new everything!
Speaking of construction, our second contractor -- J3 Construction -- has pulled us back from the brink and we are 100% back on track for a Spring Break grand reopening! They have accomplished in 3 weeks what our original contractor did not do in 3 months! It's sad, but the local boys just could not ramp up for a job of this size, and they will be moving on after they finish up the 5 rooms they have been working on since October.
On the insurance side of things, it looks like they are going to pay out about $400,000. This sounds great, until you realize that the cost of repairs will exceed $500,000. We are, of course, arguing for more money, but that will be an uphill battle. Meanwhile, they have jacked our insurance premium for 2018 up 10%, to well over $20,000 per year.
Around town, businesses continue to reopen. There are now 17 restaurants open, which is wonderful! The larger bars in town have also reopened, and several are planning New Years Eve parties!
Some old favorites remain closed, however. Venetian Hot Plate, Trout Street Grill, Inferno, Cody's, and Jay's Spaghetti Works are all still under construction. Most of the chain convenience stores have not reopened (which is no great loss), and some businesses are sadly gone forever. Over 100 buildings (in a town of just 3500 people) are being bulldozed.
The beach, as always, remains beautiful and almost untouched. If you EVER wanted to see the beach in its natural state, now is the time to come visit. The shells are amazing -- and no crowds!
So, life goes on. We are hoping y'all come down and see us over the winter, and we promise to be fully open by spring!
Oh, and BTW: Our daughter, Becca, just graduated from Texas A&M in Corpus Christi with a bachelor's degree in business! We are incredibly proud of her, and welcome her knowledge and expertise as she transitions into becoming a manager of Amelia's Landing Hotel! :-)
Jay, Mary, and Becca Honeck
Day 128 -- January 5, 2018
It's been 4+ months since they let us back on the Island after Hurricane Harvey, and we've got some exciting news! We are about to get five new rooms back from the contractors! Woot!
The Red Baron Room -- one of our full kitchen rooms -- is done! We only await the city inspection, and then we can get some lucky Winter Texan into their favorite room!
Well, first we have to hang a bunch of art. And put up the TV. And add plates, pans, and utensils. But it's ALMOST ready!
Next up will be the Reno Air Race Room, the Blackbird Room, the Wright Brothers Room, and the Piper Room. They are all done with the exception of the all-important adjoining room doors, which are apparently made of Unobtanium. We have been waiting for those to come in for three months!
After that will come the city inspections. But we are oh, so close to being more back in business! :-)
In other news around town, Spanky's Liquor has reopened! Yes, it's hard to believe that the island survived 133 days without a liquor store! lol They will now be located in the old Connoisseur Souvenir shop, just down the street from us. (The souvenir shop is planning to move into the old Coastal Ed's Cart Rental shop, also on Alister Street. We aren't sure what's happening with Coastal Ed's.)
Many of the restaurants and bars are open for your convenience and pleasure! We now have 18 establishments open, most within walking distance of the hotel! Woo hoo!
So, progress continues, with everyone's goal to be fully open by Spring Break. We still have 8 rooms completely torn out, some are almost done, some are still down to the sand. Tourists have begun to filter back to Port A, though, with the opening of more businesses and the beach being the ever-lasting draw.
We hope you can come visit soon!
Jay, Mary, & Becca
January 10, 2018
140 days in the making, we give you the new Red Baron Room, our first full kitchen room back, with all new EVERYTHING down to the sand.
Amazingly, it is rented for a full month, starting today!
January 15, 2018
After 143 days, fresh from city inspection, I give you the newest hotel room in Texas, the brand, new Reno Air Race Room.
Chock-full of art and memorabilia from the world famous Reno Air Races, it is brand new down to the sand -- and it's available tonight!
January 17, 2018
147 days in the making, back from Hurricane Harvey, we give you our brand new Blackbird Room!
New all the way down to the sand, this pet-friendly room commemorates the fastest air-breathing aircraft ever built, and is chock full of SR-71 artwork and memorabilia, much of it donated by Bill Fox, a three decade manager at the Lockheed Skunk Works.
It comfortably sleeps two couples, and is available for immediate occupancy TONIGHT! Call 361-749-5572 to reserve!
January 18, 2018
This is happening today. We are going down to the sand on all of our rooms. This is the Memphis Belle and Womens Pilots rooms. Those are the joists.
In two weeks, they will be all new! :-)
January 19, 2018
The brothers are back!
149 days in the making, post-Harvey, we present to you our brand, new-to-the-sand Wright Brothers Room!
This fabulous double-Queen room is chock-full of every amenity imaginable, from a makeup mirror to a DVD player, from a coffee maker to a refrigerator.
It also features scads of artwork and memorabilia from the fathers of aviation, Orville and Wilbur Wright, much of which was obtained in Dayton and Kitty hawk during the centennial of flight celebrations back in 2003.
And it's available tonight! Be the very first guest in this room -- the weather is supposed to be lovely this weekend, so c'mon down to Port A. Call 361-749-5572 to reserve!
January 20, 2018
150 days in the making, fresh from city inspection and rebuilt down to the sand, we give you our brand, new Piper Room!
This gorgeous double Queen room commemorates every aircraft made by the venerable Piper Company, from Cubs and Comanches to Cherokees and Malibu's. It sleeps two couples easily and comes with every imaginable amenity, from a magnifying makeup mirror to Wolfgang Puck coffee.
This is the last of our "second batch" of rooms back from hurricane reconstruction. Stay tuned for the third, fourth, and fifth batches!
February 1, 2018
After the contractors are "done", there are 34 separate items in this room that need to be measured, leveled, anchored and screwed/bolted to the walls, from blow dryers and headboards, to artwork and lamps.
It's just a huge job. But the Apollo Room is already rented for tomorrow night so I guess we better get 'er done!
February 2, 2018
163 days in the making, and new down to the sand, we proudly present our brand, new Apollo Room!
Commemorating the victorious race to the moon, this room has everything you could ever want in a fine hotel room!
These pix were taken literally as the first happy guest was checking in for the weekend. Book it for a future stay by calling us at 361-749-5572.
February 3, 2018
For the first time in 164 days, the pool area and hot tub are 100% open for use by our guests! Woohoo!
February 6, 2018
Fresh from city inspection, 167 days in the making, and absolutely new down to the sand, we proudly present our brand, new Stearman Room!
Built to commemorate the biplane that taught our World War II airmen to fly, this beautiful double queen non-smoking room offers every amenity available in any fine hotel room!
And it can be yours tonight! C'mon down to Port A and stay in the newest old hotel in Texas! :-)
Call 361-749-5572 to reserve.
February 7, 2018
As you all know, it was the storm surge that did the majority of the hurricane damage we suffered at Amelia's Landing. The water got above the fiberboard and soaked the pink insulation on the bottom of both buildings, which held hundreds of gallons of salt water tightly up against the bottom of the subfloors, soaking and destroying everything. Instead of just having to replace some wet sheetrock, we were faced with a total demolition and rebuild -- mostly due to that stupid insulation.
After spending $550,000 (so far) and untold hours rebuilding, we sure weren't about to put THAT type of insulation back. The solution? Spray on, closed cell insulation!
And today was the day to do the South Building.
Today was just a horrible day to be working outside. Cold rain and windy. But it was a great day to be insulating the bottom of the South Building! Kurt (from Wisconsin!) was wearing a space suit while working under the building where it was nice and dry, and the foam is heated to 140 degrees before application -- so temperature didn't really matter.
What an amazing rig and process. (The rig and truck cost over $1 million dollars!) The South Building will now be warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer, and QUIETER all the time! Best of all: If we get another hurricane, it's 100% waterproof and will not hold water!
Next week, we do the much larger North Building
February 8, 2018
It's Day 169 (since Harvey) -- and we would like to show you our newest (down to the sand!) aviation themed hotel room -- The Mustang Room!
Built to commemorate the best fighter plane of World War II, this is our first new single queen, non-smoking, no-pet room back from the contractors! And, wow, it is spectacular!
With the same tiled shower and granite counters as our larger rooms, this room sports every amenity -- including makeup mirror, DVD player, hair dryer, and flat screen HDTV.
And it can be yours this weekend! Call 361-749-5572 to reserve this fabulous new room.
February 14, 2018
Day 175 update: Almost 6 months to the day since it was severely damaged, the Lightning Room has risen from the flood waters!
Brand new, down to the sand, this single queen, non-smoking, no-pet room is perfect for your next getaway to the island!
Built to commemorate the Lockheed P-38 Lightning (and our top scoring ace, Richard I. Bong), this room includes every imaginable amenity, including DVD player, HDTV, makeup mirror, hair dryer, plush queen sized bed, and much more!
It can be yours -- but not tonight! It rented ten minutes after we put the finishing touches. :-)
Call 361-749-5572 to reserve.
February 15, 2018
176 days after being destroyed by hurricane Harvey, the Pan Am Clipper Room is BACK!
Brand new to the joists, this single queen, non-smoking, no pet room is ideal for your getaway weekend.
Call 361-749-5572 to reserve! It's 78 and sunny on the island today! :-)
February 16. 2018
Today was a HUGE day for us. The South Building, including the office and our home, is 100% FINISHED, from the new roofs all the way down to the sand! Woohoo!
The last step? Replacing the skirting, as shown in the pics.
In those first few frantic days after Hurricane Harvey, we desperately needed to remove the pink insulation from the bottoms of the buildings. It was holding hundreds of gallons of salt water tightly up against the subfloor, ruining them!
Unfortunately it was above a VERY well installed 1/2" oiled fiberboard barrier that had to be removed by hand...
...While laying on your back.
...In the mud.
...Oh, and tearing it out released the trapped salt water.
...Right into your face.
...And it was moldy.
And it was almost 100 degrees outside. With no power, so no air conditioning.
To facilitate the faster removal of that material, the wooden "skirts" that hide the piers from view were torn off. The hotel has sat like that ever since, looking like a Victorian lady without her hoop skirt.
Not anymore! This last step in our reconstruction was completed today. Our South Building is entirely new!
The steps that needed to happen before we could reach this point, over the course of the last six months, have been amazing.
First, the roofs had to be replaced. Then, the rooms had to be gutted, one by one, down to the joists. Then, each room had to be rebuilt, from the sand up. Then, the underside of the building had to be insulated with spray foam.
Finally, 176 days later, we can close that building up! Job done!
Stay tuned for progress reports on the almost finished (much larger) North Building!
February 20, 2018
These are the new beds we are getting -- check out that build date! They are only 8 days out of the factory!
That's "fresh"... :-)
This is the new Memphis Belle Room going together, BTW. All it needs is a final inspection by the city and it will be ready for YOU. More pix tomorrow. :-)
Call 361-749-5572 to reserve it!
February 21, 2018
182 days in the making -- and new all the way down to the sand -- we present our lovely "Memphis Belle Room"!
Built to commemorate the most famous bomber of World War II, and chock-full of artwork donated by the pilot of the Belle, Bob Morgan -- this single queen, non-smoking, no-pet room offers every amenity imaginable, from a makeup mirror to a DVD player, from a microwave oven to a 10-cup coffee maker.
It can be yours soon, but not tonight! It rented 10 minutes after we put the last finishing touches on it! :-)
Call 361-749-5572 to book the Memphis Belle!
February 23, 2018
It's Day 184 since Hurricane Harvey, and we have another brand-new-to-the-sand room to introduce -- our Women's Pilot Room!
Built to commemorate all of the famous women pilots going all the way back to 1912, this gorgeous single queen, non-smoking, no-pet room sports EVERY imaginable amenity!
Makeup mirror? Check. HDTV? Yep. Hair dryer, DVD player, microwave, fridge, and 10-cup coffee maker?
And it can be yours THIS WEEKEND! We literally JUST finished it 20 minutes ago!
Call 361-749-5572 to reserve! :-)
February 25, 2018
Day 186 update:
Woo hoo! The goal line is in sight!
Our contractors will be wrapping up the last rooms this week, we've got the new TVs, microwaves, beds, etc, and all we need is another coat of polyurethane on these bedside tables to bring back the Antique Aircraft Room, The Constellation Room, and the Floatplane Room.
We are on track for being 100% open for spring break! Are YOU coming to Port A? We've got availability, and we DON'T rent to anyone under age 25, so you can bring the family in confidence.
Call us at 361-749-5572.
February 26, 2018
185 days since Harvey utterly trashed us, we give you our 100% brand new (to the sand!) "Airshow Room"!
This full kitchen, double queen, no smoking, pet friendly room commemorates that great American tradition -- the air show -- and it is simply awesome, sporting every amenity you can imagine! And it is all brand new!
Best of all, it can be yours tonight! Call us at 361-749-5572 to reserve yourself some island time!
February 28, 2018
It's Day 187 since Hurricane Harvey -- and we are proud to announce another brand new (to the sand) aviation themed room is finished!
The Antique Aircraft room is chock full of artwork from the Golden Age of flight -- and it can be yours tonight!
Sporting granite counters, a tiled shower, makeup mirror, hair dryer, HDTV, DVD player, and a 10-day old bed, this room has every amenity known to hotels!
Call 361-749-5572 to reserve the brand, new Antique Aircraft Room.
March 1, 2018
It's like Christmas every day at the hotel! Today, the UPS driver delivered our Pier One furniture for the last two rooms! Woohoo!
We can 100% recommend Pier One products! They are the ONLY furniture products that survived the hurricane storm surge unscathed. All of our "regular" hotel furniture was destroyed.
Day 188 Update:
We are happy to report that we are coming to the end of major hurricane reconstruction at the hotel! We have the last four rooms back from the contractors -- now all they need is furniture, artwork, aviation memorabilia, beds, televisions... lol
With the end of rebuilding in sight (hopefully done in the next week!), we will be able to resume our signature service -- the "delivered to the room" continental breakfast! That service was curtailed because the breakfast prep room was destroyed -- and once we got it back from the contractors, it was loaded, floor-to-ceiling, with building supplies.
Every day, that pile diminishes! We can see the floor in that room again! So, effective March 9th, we are planning to resume breakfast service once again. Hooray!
Also on March 9th, we will resume regular office hours. We have been on diminished "hurricane hours" since Harvey (office closing early -- first at 6 PM, during the hurricane curfew, then at 8 PM) during the week. We will go back to being open until 11 PM, 7 days a week.
Watch for further updates. We should be bringing a new room on-line every other day for the next 8 days!
March 2, 2018
It's Day 189 since Harvey's devastation -- and it is time to bring our newest room back on-line -- The Constellation Room!
Built to commemorate the most beautiful airliner ever built and the Golden Age of Airline travel, this new-to-the-sand single queen, non-smoking, no pet room has everything you could ever want in a luxury hotel room, from a plush queen bed to a spacious new tiled walk-in shower!
It is rented for this weekend, but it could be yours next week!
Call 361-749-5572 to reserve the Connie Room!
March 3, 2018
Welcome to day 190 since Hurricane Harvey threw us for a loop. It's time to bring another aviation themed room back from the devastation!
Today it's the "Floatplane Room". Once a common sight in the skies (when airports were scarce), flying boats and floatplanes have become a wonderful and romantic rarity, and this room celebrates their existence!
This single queen, non-smoking, no pet room sleeps two comfortably and is lacking in nothing. Every amenity is provided, from a makeup mirror to a DVD player, from a brand new tiled walk-in shower to an equally new plush queen bed. This room is new all the way down to the sand!
It's rented for tonight, but it can be yours tomorrow! Call 361-749-5572 to book some island time!
March 7, 2018
This is what 194 twelve-hour days looks like. It ain't pretty.
But we did it. Amelia's Landing Hotel will be 100% open as of tomorrow, for the first time since Hurricane Harvey. Every room is new down to the sand!
It is Day 194 since Hurricane Harvey tried to kill us -- and it's time to bring another aviation themed room back from the dead!
This time it is our personal favorite, the "Van's RV Room"!
The Van's lineup of homebuilt airplanes is the most popular in the world -- and Amelia -- our RV-8A -- is one of over 10,000 of them flying! So you can see why we love this room! :-)
With two queen beds, fridge, microwave, and TEN cup coffee maker, this room features everything you've seen in a hotel room -- and it is brand new down to the SAND.
Now throw in a makeup mirror, DVD player, HDTV, and a new tiled walk-in shower, and this room will exceed your expectations in every way. It is simply the best!
And it can be yours! Call 361-749-5572 to book the Van's RV Room!
March 8, 2018
This is the last room! We are now 100% new and open!
It's Day 195, and we are proud to present the brand new Charles Lindbergh Room, back from the ruins of Hurricane Harvey!
This gorgeous double queen room is built to honor Lucky Lindy -- the first person to fly the Atlantic solo -- and features every imaginable hotel amenity, from a makeup mirror to a DVD player, from a new tiled walk-in shower to all-granite counters and brand new pillow top queen beds!
As you can see, it has an internal adjoining door that -- if you also rent the Van's RV Room -- means you can open those doors and have a giant 4 bed suite! Got a big group? This is perfect!
Want to stay in the newest hotel room in the world? Call 361-749-5572 to reserve the Charles Lindbergh Room.
March 9, 2018
We are 100% open and brand, spanking new! Come stay with us!
Yes, we still have rooms for Spring Break, which starts TODAY. (Remember, we only rent to guests 25 and older during Spring Break, so your restful and enjoyable vacation is assured!)
March 10, 2018
Here's to our first fully open, 100% sold out weekend since Hurricane Harvey! After 195 days, a little champagne is called for!
Thanks, y'all, for coming! :-)
March 13, 2018
The LAST "last step" in our rebuild after Harvey.
After the hurricane, we hurriedly tore the skirting off the buildings, in order to remove the soaking wet pink insulation. This saved the buildings from demolition, and allowed us to rebuild.
Now that rebuilding is done, with all new subfloors and spray-foam insulation, it's time to make 'er look purty again. It's quite a job, but in the end it will be beautiful! :-)
Update: Day 217 since Harvey – April 4, 2018.
This is the last area of the hotel to be repaired after being destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. New fences and siding are going back up!
PeeDee's Park -- our off-leash dog park -- will be back soon! :-)
Day 242 -- Final Hurricane Update -- April 28, 2018
It's Sandfest Saturday and the island is HOPPING! The restaurants, beach, and streets are full of happy sun-worshipers, and the festival is packed. This seems like a fitting place to end the story of our saga, with one final reconstruction update.
As the video shows, our last contractor has finished the last job -- reinstalling the skirts that shroud the big pilings that the hotel is built upon. These we're hurriedly torn off way back on Day 3, so that we could access the bottom of the buildings, remove all the saltwater-soaked pink insulation, and let everything dry out.
The very last section to do was in PeeDees Park -- our off-leash dog park -- and it is done! That wall stretches all the way from Alister Street to Oleander Street, and replacing it was a major job.
There were also big sections above the skirting that were ruined and had to be painstakingly cut out and replaced, and our local contractor did a fine job.
Another milestone today :. We received our final insurance reimbursement check. Strangely, this last check was to pay for the very first job we hired out: Tarping the damaged roofs! lol
Why that took almost 8 months to pay is a mystery only TWIA can explain -- we are just happy to get it!
And so, friends, we are at the end of this long, crazy road. Every business in Port A who wants to rebuild either has rebuilt, or they are well along in the process. Port A feels very normal this weekend, and our hotel is new and better than ever!
C'mon down and check us out! We think you will love what you see!
Jat, Mary, and Becca Honeck
Port Aransas, TX