After Hurricane Harvey hit the small beach town of Port Aransas more than four months ago, the city's mayor – flanked by a handful of city officials who had stayed on Mustang Island to ride out the storm – held a press conference at City Hall. The town had been pummeled by Harvey; 75 percent of its structures were destroyed.
Now the Corpus Christi Caller-Times has named Port Aransas Mayor Charles Bujan the newsmaker of the year.
Bujan says the devastation from Harvey is something unique – even to him, a native of Port Aransas.
“To be honest with you, my family’s lived here over 130 years so we know what hurricanes are and what they do,” he says. “This one was a bit different. It was more catastrophic than any I’ve seen.”
Bujan says the Texas General Land Office is responding as best they can.
“They were handed a bad apple to begin with by FEMA,” he says. “FEMA knew when they gave that project to the GLO that it was a very impossible thing. FEMA does not want to be in the housing business.”
He says FEMA has done a good job in rental assistance – but providing trailers and mobile homes has been a completely different story.
“They have been a tremendous failure,” he says.
Bujan says federal disaster relief funding has also disappointed Port Aransas.
“Just recently our federal government released $54 million in grants,” he says. “$47 million went to Houston. What does that leave for the rest of the coast?”
Despite that, Bujan says the people of Port Aransas have done good recovery work on their own.
“We’re resilient people,” he says. “We live by the sea. We understand what the sea can do. And we don’t give up. And we will come back, and we’ll come back strong.”
Written by Jen Rice.