Port Lavaca still cleaning up, figuring out cost from Hurricane Harvey

Posted at 2:50 PM, Oct 25, 2017
and last updated 2018-06-19 15:01:06-04

It's been nearly two months since Harvey rammed into the Texas coast as a Category 4 hurricane.

Central Texas News Now sent a crew down to Port Lavaca to ride out the storm on Aug. 25 and then sent them down again to see how the city is recovering eight weeks later.

The Holiday Inn Express and Suites was the only hotel open when Harvey hit. 

The surf raged and debris flew outside while inside the floors flooded and doors flew open.

When daylight came the next morning, many things had been blown down including fences, railings, gazebos, trees and much more.

"It really surprised me that the breaks actually floated away," said Holiday Inn and Suites sales director Jeff Sabedra.

He said he left Port Lavaca before the storm hit and came back about a week later. Employees came back shortly after that and the clean up began.

"Literally, all the rooms had to be stripped of all the linens, the curtains, we had to do a lot of carpet shampooing," Sabedra said. "It was literally truckloads of debris that had to be hauled off."

While Sabedra said the cleaning is done and the guests are back, the repairs are on-going.

"Right now, we're still [working]. It's a work in progress," Sabedra said.

Sabedra said the pool is still closed and the elevator does not work.

"It would be great if within a few days time we could have all the repair people come in but realistically, it's not going to happen. We weren't the only ones to suffer," Sabedra said.

"We've been primarily working on debris clean up since the storm and we've had to go out and get bids and get contractors to get going on that," said Port Lavaca city engineer Jody Weaver.

Weaver said crews have collected 20,000 cubic yards of brush and about 2,000 cubic yards of construction debris. When you do the math, Weaver said that will cost nearly a quarter million dollars alone. Weaver said when you add in repairs to buildings, boardwalks, and beaches, the city could be dealing with a more than $6 million bill.

"I honestly felt that we dodged a bullet that it could have been a whole lot worse than it was," Weaver said.

Sabedra said while he doesn't know how much the hotel's final bill will be, he hopes his guests can stay patient.

"Ninety-nine percent of them are very understanding. They're completely OK with the fact that they might have to walk stairs for a bit longer," Sabedra said.

Weaver said she has the same hope for the community.

"This was used by a lot of walkers in the community and we see on Facebook all the time. When is it going to be fixed and we're 'ah, um it's going to be awhile,'" Weaver said.

Because they have to wait on contractors to make repairs and agencies to approve funds, Sabedra and Weaver said they just do not know when they will be done.

Weaver said the city met with FEMA this week and hopes to hear from an insurance adjuster next week to work out a more accurate estimate on cost. She said the hope is that FEMA and grants can cover what insurance doesn't.

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