Hurricane Harvey Update from Port Aransas

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Jay Honeck, May 28, 2018.

  1. Jay Honeck

    Jay Honeck Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It's been a long 9 months since the hurricane that changed our lives. Not coincidentally, I haven't been here much. Okay, I haven't been here at all.

    We are finally 100% rebuilt, so I thought I'd post an update on where we've been, what we've done, and where we are going.

    Our aviation themed hotel in Port Aransas, TX, was severely damaged. Literally every part of the hotel was damaged or destroyed. 135 mile per hour winds peeled the roofs off, blew out our sign, and actually stripped paint off of every surface facing the storm.

    What wasn't destroyed by the wind, the 5.5' storm surge finished off. All the fences, all the pool furniture, the hot tub, the off-leash dog park -- all gone. The pool, filled with all of our pool furniture, was scoured clean of pool water and left filled with the most disgusting bay bottom muck that ruined the marble plaster walls and bottom. The parking lots and decks were covered in mud.

    What made it so devastating was that the surge came from the bays to the Northeast, rather than from the Gulf. All of the islands defenses faced the Gulf, and were rendered useless by the hurricane spinning the bay over the island from the backside.

    When we were allowed to return to the island, we found boats in the streets and a changed landscape. We could not get into the hotel parking lots due to debris. We started by tying ropes around the trees and dragging them away from the lots and doors.

    Even though the hotel is built on 4' piers, every room had water in them. Some had fish in them. Since all the doors were closed and locked, we still have no idea how that could have happened. When we were allowed back on the island, none of the doors could be opened -- they had swollen shut in the salt water. I had to kick them all open.

    Once they were open, they kept swelling. Within minutes, they could not be closed. They would remain open for the next two weeks, until they dried enough to close them. All would have to be replaced.

    Before we evacuated, Mary had the housekeepers put all the towels, bedspreads, and linens in plastic bags, and put them on the beds. This saved them. Unfortunately, the bed bases dissolved in the salt water, and collapsed into the floodwaters, so all the beds and most of the furniture were destroyed. Since we live at the hotel, we were effectively homeless as well.

    We had nothing. No electricity, no water, no roofs, no tools. Every power and hand tool at the hotel was destroyed by salt water. Luckily, our hangar at TP McCampbell Airport in Ingleside survived with minor damage, so I was able to retrieve my tools from there. We lived in the hangar for the next month.

    The temperatures were in the 90s, with humidity to match. Without electricity there was no air conditioning. With flooding came mosquitoes. It was severely unfun.

    Then, the mold took hold. Every piece of sheet rock had pink insulation in the wall -- and it was all soaked. We were in a race against time, and we had no people.

    Then, the coup de grace -- the underside of the hotel (built on piers, remember) was insulated with pink fiberglass covered with a heavy oiled fiberboard. The salt water storm surge had gotten ABOVE the fiberboard, soaked the insulation -- and it was holding hundreds of gallons of water up against the subfloors.

    Those 3/4" plywood subfloors were rapidly softening. The beautiful tile floors I had spent 5 years laying were all starting to crack. We had to get that wet insulation off the bottom of the buildings, pronto.

    But who would do it? It was well beyond anything Mary and I could do. I contacted every contractor I knew. All took one look at the job -- laying on their back, in the mud, and pulling soaking wet, moldy insulation into their faces -- and never showed up again. It took a week to find someone to do the job, and by then it was too late -- the floors were going fast.

    Thanks to help from many angels (including quite a few pilots on this group), we soon had enough fans, extension cords, and generators to keep the lights on and a few air conditioners running. We soon became a homeless shelter, taking in islanders who had lost everything. We didn't have much, but by then we had tarped the roofs and salvaged some beds and furniture. For those who had lost everything, this would be their home for the next 5 months.

    Gradually, services would be restored. Electricity came first. The National Guard provided water. A refugee camp a block from the hotel would feed us for the next 60 days. We started the task of ripping out every piece of drywall below 4' in the hotel and our home. This demolition would take months.

    While we were evacuated I was already contacting roofing contractors. Thus, we had the first new roofs on the island. We started reconstruction with local contractors who quickly fell hopelessly behind. We knew that if we weren't rebuilt by Spring Break 2018 (7 months in the future) there was little point in rebuilding at all. Incredibly, our plight was heard about on Facebook, and one of our fans found us a contractor in the Dallas area. They would become our primary contractor, moving on-site and living with us for the next 8 months.

    The tile, hardibacker, and subfloors all had to come out. We opted to replace the 3/4" floors with 1 1/8" -- much stronger. You could open the doors to the rooms and see joists and sand -- we had to wait until the moisture level in the joists was low enough to proceed.

    500 obstacles were raised -- and overcome. 200 straight 12 hour days made it possible. The fact that I had spent 5 years renovating the place myself meant that I was the perfect general contractor -- the crews working for me could not skate on anything without being detected and corrected. Still success seemed unlikely, with no income and such an enormous task.

    Fast forward to March. With two days to spare, we were 100% open for Spring Break, proving that there is literally nothing that money and hard work cannot fix. The end tally: $640,000 in damages paid out. Our labor was, of course, free.

    Along the way, we've made some upgrades. As long as we had to tear out every room down to the joists anyway, we got rid of the old fiberglass tubs and went with beautiful walk-in tile showers. That added $140,000 to the rebuild, but it was worth it.

    Our last refugee family left two weeks ago. This past Friday the fencing company finished the gate on the new dog park fence. The pool, hot tub, sign, and everything below 4' in the hotel is new.

    Thankfully, miraculously, all of our aviation artwork and memorabilia survived! Some of it got moldy, but we stripped it all out and stored it in our hangar for the duration. All of the rooms are brand new and better than they've ever been.

    The good news: Since Spring Break, we have been having a record-setting year! March and April were the best we've ever had, and May has been incredible.

    So, it's been a long, strange journey. Amelia's Landing is better than it ever was, with literally everything in the hotel brand new. All of the great Port Aransas restaurants and bars have rebuilt and reopened, and the beach is just incredible. The beach is just packed for Memorial Day weekend, and we are sold out wall-to-wall!

    So, come on down to the island! Our courtesy car survived (because I parked it in the hangar).
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2018
  2. Brad Z

    Brad Z Final Approach

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    Glad to hear you’re back to great, Jay. I’m sure it must be nice to shift back from general contractor mode to innkeeper mode. Thanks for the update!
     
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  3. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Thanks for sharing,glad to see everything worked out ,with all the hardship you had to endure.Good luck going forward.
     
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  4. N659HB

    N659HB Pattern Altitude

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    Lather, rinse repeat!
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    No wonder you stopped posting! Congratulations, and thanks for the update.
     
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  5. mcdewey

    mcdewey Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Congratulations! Hoping we'll see you at Oshkosh again this year!
     
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  6. X3 Skier

    X3 Skier En-Route

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    Amazing! Best to you and much good luck for the future.

    Cheers
     
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  7. hankrausch

    hankrausch Pre-takeoff checklist

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    What a truly inspiring story. Thank you for posting this.
     
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  8. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Perseverance! Wonderful story, what a journey. Happy that you've recovered and back to normal again. Congratulations to you and your wife.
     
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  9. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Time for a vacation!
     
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  10. MikeELP

    MikeELP Pattern Altitude

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    So happy for the good outcome Jay. What an inspiration to everyone on what one can do with determination!!
     
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  11. retpd2001

    retpd2001 Line Up and Wait

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    Good Job Jay! See you at OSH!
     
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  12. Lachlan

    Lachlan En-Route

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    Congratulations on your resurgence into the next adventure! Time for a beer! (Whole keg, I believe!!!)
     
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  13. Twin_Flyer

    Twin_Flyer Cleared for Takeoff

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    Congratulations :cheers: It's great that it has all worked out for you both...:thumbsup:
     
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  14. OkieFlyer

    OkieFlyer En-Route

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    Well, pretty much all of that story really sucks, except for the triumph at the end. Glad you guys powered through and came out on top. Congrats.
     
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  15. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    I was concerned, but thought you had better things to do than waste time on the internet. I did send a package your way, alas it was thieved in Dallas.
     
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  16. Jay Honeck

    Jay Honeck Touchdown! Greaser!

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    ??? How did that happen?

    You bringing China to OSH this year?
     
  17. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Good to see that you are up and running. Good luck with the season.
     
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  18. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    Don't really know. I got a letter from USPS that said it was theived and a form to request a refund for my shipping. The DVD's I was sending (along with the Origami) are gone. The DVD's I can't really replace, i can make another Origami.

    I am indeed.
     
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  19. Art Rose

    Art Rose Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I'm sure you've already heard that the National Weather Service predicts a 50% chance for a hurricane on the Texas Gulf Coast this season, and Mother Nature already has a head start this year.
     
  20. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    A great story on good ol' American can do.!!
     
  21. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    That National Weather Service, you gotta hand it to them for sticking their neck out. A 50% chance means that the Texas gulf coast region will either have a hurricane or it will not.
     
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  22. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    You beat me to it. Any year the Texas Gulf Coast can get a hurricane.
     
  23. BigBadLou

    BigBadLou Final Approach

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    Jay, glad y'all are finished with the remodel .... again. I applaud you for having the dedication and energy to do something twice, I don't think I'd have enough will-power in me for such an under-taking.

    We will send more people your way and we sure-as-heck will be making an appearance ourselves. (just gotta see when the wife can get some time off work)

    And when we come by, I'm bringing a cooler cuz beer's on me.
     
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  24. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    You clearly don't follow Jay on Facebook. :p :p :p
     
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  25. 172andyou

    172andyou Line Up and Wait

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    No. It means that their models say there is an equal chance of either outcome. During an El Niño, for example, the percentage would be higher.
     
  26. BigBadLou

    BigBadLou Final Approach

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    No need for that self-important zoo.
    We follow Jay on Face-to-face Book.
    We Book a room and then catch up Face-to-face with Jay & Mary while drinking beer.
    Can you beat that?
     
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  27. N747JB

    N747JB Final Approach

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    Glad to hear you are up and running!! I'd love to stop in and see you guys and your place!!
     
  28. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Been trying to find time to get down there for years. But technically, unless I marry him and live with him, probably not. Won’t be “beating” it. Ha.
     
  29. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    The Steingar does not do Facebook. Steingar is no man's product.
     
  30. BigBadLou

    BigBadLou Final Approach

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    Well, how about we organize a PoA weekend at Jay's place? Y'all should definitely come down and check it out.
     
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  31. charheep

    charheep Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    Great write up and results! I dont know if I would have it in me to rebuild seeing the damage. I would hope so if ever in that type of sitch, but just looking at the pics and write up..
     
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  32. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Pretty easy to avoid. The last time I checked, Facebook’s marketing engine thinks I’m into men’s fashion and a few other things that would make you laugh. You just lie to it about what you like. No marketing computer has yet figured out how to deal with lies. Hahaha.
     
  33. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    Been worried about you Jay, and even guilty of saying a prayer or two for you.
    Glad you are getting back on your feet.
    Went through the same thing a few years ago when the hurricane destroyed my daughters home.
     
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  34. Jay Honeck

    Jay Honeck Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Great idea, but let's wait until after The Season. Say, next September-ish?

    The rates are cheaper and we have more time to play!
     
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  35. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    That starts to run into Gaston’s in mid October, but September could work...
     
  36. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That runs into 6Y9...
     
  37. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Yeah. Jay... what’s later in the winter like? I know you transition over to the “Winter Texans” at some point.
     
  38. Jay Honeck

    Jay Honeck Touchdown! Greaser!

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    November is nice here, but bad flying everywhere else.
    Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk
     
  39. DrewG

    DrewG Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Everything looks amazing, Jay. Such an incredible display of resolve and perseverance!

    I haven't been to Port Aransas since I was in high school. I loved it there and would love to bring the family down at some point this year. Assuming we were looking at a 5-7 day stay, what's the best play aviation-wise? According to FF and airnav, there doesn't appear to be fuel or rental cars available at the Mustang Beach airport. I assume landing over at McCampbell airport is the best option for the longer visit accommodations/rental car and taking the ferry over into Port Aransas?
     
  40. Ghery

    Ghery Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You beat me to it. I've been following the saga on Facebook all along. It's great that they're back in business, and that business is booming!
     
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