City staff, outside agencies work to restore services
Aransas Pass city staff members, agencies from through the country, and volunteer organizations banded together last week working to restore city services, clean up the debris and destructions, and provide necessary items for residents such as water, food, shelter, and other such items.
Operating out of an emergency operations center located in a back room at City Hall, Aransas Pass Police Chief Eric Blanchard said, city crews have been working non-stop. He pointed out they requested a city crew from the Valley to supplement staff who have been working on the water/ sewer infrastructure.
The chief said there are 650 AEP crew on duty who are centralizing out of Aransas Pass, but are focusing on the entire Coastal Bend. The EOC was on auxiliary power last week, but electricity had been restored to some parts of the city by the weekend.
Blanchard said pick-up of regular household trash, is back on schedule as normal, and is already ongoing. Regarding storm debris, he said that information has been posted on the Aransas Pass Police Department Facebook page. He said it is important residents be aware of trash pick-up related to the storm, because if they miss it, they will have to take care of it themselves later, and there will be a charge.
Several businesses in town were already up and running last week; with the first one being H-E-B. According to H-EB Public Affairs Director Regina King, the company prides itself on being the “last one to close, and the first one to open.” The grocery company brought in its own Emergency Preparedness team, not only to begin working on the store to get it up and functioning, but to provide aid to residents.
H-E-B sent employees from other areas to throw out spoiled products, restock produce, and relieve employees as they work to replenish supplies of water, fresh food, and fuel.
H-E-B also initiated its own emergency crews, deploying more than 15 disaster response vehicles, including the company’s two mobile kitchens, water and fuel tankers, trailers and “direct response units” - which feature mobile pharmacies and business services that allow costumers to cash checks and pay bills.
sas Pass, Victoria and Houston - have served about 20,000 meals.
The Walmart gas station was up, however its reconstruction team was working to get the store open. McCoy’s also opened last week.
Blanchard said Lowe’s sustained a lot of damage, wall and interior damage, and it will be a while before they are back in business.
In regard to residents who are staying in their home without services, he said they are urged to not use the plumbing, as it is not at full operational status. He said with sewer services, the city has two lift station working. The sewer plant is 30 to 40 percent operational, which is bad, but it’s enough to get the process going.
There will be a limited number of City staff members working through the weekend, although the public works department will have staff working on the infrastructure through the weekend.
Mayor Ram Chavez said the recovery effort has been awesome and credited that to the great team of city staff members who are on duty. He pointed out they set up the emergency operations center before Harvey hit.
He also praised the many out-of-town, and out-of-state agencies which have come into town to bring food, water, cleaning supplies, etc.
Capt. Paul Braly, and a group of 10 members from the Market 35 Marina in Corpus Christi, were handing out water and food bags with items such as fruit, chips, canned vegetables, crackers, Spam, etc. They purchased the items themselves and they were in Aransas Pass Monday, Aug.28, and also went to Rockport and Port Aransas, and other small cities. He said their goal was to try to hit every neighborhood and help everyone they see.
A group of 150 to 200 volunteers from River City Community Church in San Antonio arrived last, week on were on site at the local Baptist Church passing out resources, going into the community cutting trees and cleaning yards, and grilling barbecue for area residents.
A group from Alice, hailing from Mi Casa Home Health, Seneca Home Health, Retama Manor Nursing Home, and the Brush County Medical office of Dr. Sergio Cantu, were at the Palm Plaza Shopping center, handing out water and supplies. While they were there, a group from Sinton and Odem showed up with more water.
Chavez said FEMA officials have arrived in town, setting up to talk to residents about disaster relief. He said one of his employee received assistance as he was taken to San Antonio to a shelter.
The mayor pointed out when the City lift station and water tower went down, they needed 23 generators to get it up and running. They went to Corpus Christi Tuesday and were guaranteed next day delivery. The generators came up and the City of Aransas Pass had the lift stations and water service up and running by Thursday, although not at full capacity.
As for the Aransas Pass Independent School District, Chavez said they are looking at three to four weeks before starting school. The administration called in contractors and a disaster relief team to assess damage.
Chavez emphasized, “The future of Aransas Pass looks bright.”
As of Thursday, Aug. 31, in regard to electricity, official said AEP continues to deploy more than 650 crews to the area and is still working on getting the main substation up and running. Progress has been great, but there is much work to come.
Regarding demolition and repairs, residents are reminded homeowners must obtain a permit for any electrical, plumbing, construction, & mechanical work. To get a permit, a contractor must be registered with the City of Aransas Pass. There is not need for a permit for demolition at this time. Permit prices are based on the total cost of the work being done. To help residents, permit prices will be reduced by 50 percent until further notice. The Public Works Office at 601 N. Avenue A opened for permitting as of Friday, Sept. 1.
Anyone who wants to volunteers can now register online at https://docs.google.com/…/1FAIpQLSdf_b33_OjFMybx4…/viewform.
Donations are being accepted, even if the City of Aransas can not use them, they will be given to all communities affected within the Coastal Bend. The donation station (drop off and pick up) is located at Allen Samuels, 877 HWY 35.
Mail delivery began last week
For information about debris collection which is underway, follow follow the guide accompanying this story or go to the site and be sure put your trash/debris stuff out, before it’s too late.
The City continues will use Aransas Pass Facebook page for all official releases, and the Progress will share those releases on its Facebook page.