Hurricane Harvey lambasted the Texas Gulf Coast this weekend and continues to threaten Houston as a tropical storm, bringing with it epic floods that have undoubtedly delivered a powerful blow to the region’s RV park and campground operators.
As is often the case in natural disasters, however, the historic storm seems to have body-slammed some parks and tiptoed around others in an almost serendipitous manner, and because communications in many instances have been completely cut off — and given the continuing storm damage — there’s really no way yet to determine how a lot of parks are faring.
“To put it in perspective,” said Brian Schaeffer, executive director of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO). “We have about 375 total park members in Texas and literally 100 of them are affected by this storm. So, over 25% of our membership’s affected. And when I say affected, I mean people being displaced or with damage to their parks.
“Now to the credit of many of the other members we have, they’re accepting evacuees and they’re offering assistance in any way they can,” he continued. “What’s happening now is we’ve called a bunch of these folks – and from now until the end of this week we’ll keep calling every day – but it’s almost impossible to get through to some of these people on the phone. We’ve had some email responses. We’ve gotten some pretty good information on social media on a lot of the parks down there. And by and large, they’re telling us that if there were a lot of rigs left in the parks – if it was in an area that was hit hardest like Rockport, Aransas Pass, Port Aransas and then on up into Houston – a lot of those rigs were destroyed.”
Most of them, he added, weren’t inhabited at the time of the weather-related crisis, but had instead been left there for use as summer weekend getaways. And when push came to shove and Hurricane Harvey approached on relatively short notice, there was little anyone could do to extricate them.
Having said that, Schaeffer noted that evacuations, where necessary, generally went well as many parks left skeletal crews for security purposes. While buildings at many parks clearly have come through in decent shape, the fates of parks throughout the region varied widely. Among the harder hit, we’re told, may have been Pioneer Beach RV Resort, located on Texas 361, just south of Port Aransas.
“Public officials – the mayor in this case – in Port Aransas said in a social media post that Pioneer Beach RV Resort, whose owners are TACO board members and who operate one of our top resorts in Texas — was a total loss,” Schaeffer said of the 363-site park, whose phones still weren’t working. “But that’s simply not the case. The owners there tried desperately to get back in and just today (Sunday, Aug. 27) they let them back in for like five minutes, and they said that while the rigs in the park were destroyed and the buildings have sustained some water damage, that because the infrastructures of most RV parks are underground – and many meters will have to be replaced – it’s not the end of the line for Pioneer Beach.”
We found a few who answered their phones and were doing rather well, all things considered:
Dad’s RV Park: Although the 121-site park is a “mess” at the moment, Suzanne Cox, property manager of the Victoria park, is still fairly pleased with the outcome.
“I had about ten or so people who did not evacuate,” Cox told RVBUSINESS.com . “We put them in our clubhouse, which was very secure. As far as RV’s went, they shifted around a little bit on their jacks, but not any major damage other than trees falling on top of them. That is probably my biggest problem — trees on top of RV’s and all over the place.
“Structurally, our buildings are still pretty well intact,” she continued. “There’s debris everywhere. All the fences are down — trees on top of power lines – no water, no electric. Our toilet situation is kind of grim because we have special toilets that have pressure tanks, so you can’t just put water in the tank like a normal toilet. That’s kind of difficult.”
Southbound RV Park and Cabins: “The eye passed right over us – we’re on the south side of Victoria out in the country – and we’re thinking that it was right around 130 miles an hour,” recalled co-owner Chris Ragsdale, who scrambled to help guests hunker down or leave as the storm approached the 14-acre, 35-site, five-cabin park.
“When you look at the place, I believe it: We have a lot of large oak and mesquite trees that are either just destroyed or severely damaged,” he added. “We have a lot of six-foot wooden privacy fences at various places in the park that are mostly torn down – probably 90% of them. My park model cabins are all in very good shape. We had fairly moderate damage to buildings, but we had minimal damage to RVs, which is really amazing.
It’s really kind of surprising,” continued Ragsdale. “With the eye passing right over here, one might have thought that it really would have been a little worse. But, I don’t know, man, it is what it is. If you go down the road, you’ll find parks that have several RVs that are either on their sides or upside down. I’m thankful we didn’t have any of that.”
Laguna Shore Village RV Park: “We have some damaged fencing and a power post that fell down,” responded Jennie Ashmore, owner of the 45-site, 21-year-old facility located in the Flour Bluff area of Corpus Christi. “That’s it. The hurricane was headed straight for us and then it started to veer a little north, so we just got a little pat on the head and then they went around us and then on to Aransas, Rockport and Aransas Pass. It was scary, but we did real well.”