Goliad park, historic sites recover from Harvey

Amber Aldaco By Amber Aldaco

Oct. 8, 2017 at 9:03 p.m.
Updated Oct. 9, 2017 at 6 a.m.

A tree that was blown down by Hurricane Harvey lays across the road to Presidio La Bahia on Aug. 26 just outside of Goliad State Park.

A tree that was blown down by Hurricane Harvey lays across the road to Presidio La Bahia on Aug. 26 just outside of Goliad State Park.   Olivia Vanni/ovanni@vicad.com for The Victoria Advocate

GOLIAD - The landscape of some areas of Goliad State Park may look a little different to daily visitors.

The park lost about 200 trees to Hurricane Harvey, said Goliad State Park Superintendent Brenda Justice.

"There were tree limbs all over the place and uprooted trees," Justice said. "They were all different sizes, all different species."

The park was closed for almost a month after Hurricane Harvey because of the extensive debris at the park and uprooted or damaged trees.

Justice stayed behind at her park residence for Harvey. Though most of her windows were boarded up, she kept one unboarded so she could look outside.

During the storm, Justice looked outside her residence and noticed a tree that was swirling around in Harvey's winds.

"It's a tree, but the way it was swirling in the wind made it seem like it was made of jelly. It was the oddest sight," Justice said.

It took weeks for the Goliad State Park employees, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department team from the Panhandle and contractors to clear sections of the park that are now open to the public. Areas where trees once stood also have to be leveled out.

The areas that remain closed include Longhorn Tent Camping, Vaquero Tent Camping, Aranama Trail, San Antonio River Trail and the paddling trail.

These areas still have downed trees, Justice said. The goal is to have the camping areas and trails opened by Oct. 20. The Mission Nuestra Senora Del Rosario, located about 4 miles west of Goliad, will be closed through the end of the year.

Justice said the park puts an emergency plan into place anytime there is a system in the Gulf of Mexico that is heading toward the area. The park also has a flood plan because it is near the San Antonio River. Justice said she expected the park to receive flooding. If Harvey had stayed longer in the Goliad area instead of going north toward Houston, the park would have flooded, Justice said.

The park has experienced flooding in the past with hurricanes and storms, she added.

"We just had the wind damage," Justice said.

Though the park had an abundance of downed trees, the majority of the park's buildings did not receive any damage. The roof to the maintenance shop did blow off, Justice said. A couple of trees fell on the wall at the Mission Nuestra Senora Del Espiritu Santo de Zuniga but only displaced a couple of rocks on the wall. A couple of big trees, though, fell away from buildings.

"We got really lucky," Justice said.

Across the highway, the Presidio La Bahia saw damages to the trees inside the compound, the air conditioning and electrical units. The building was without power for nine days, said Scott McMahon, director of Presidio La Bahia. The presidio was closed for about a week.

"It worked out really well," he said.

McMahon said he'd like to look into possibly turning Presidio La Bahia into a shelter in the future in the event of a storm. McMahon, along with a few others, took shelter at the presidio during the storm.

"We want to make that available, if possible, in the future," McMahon said.

Goliad County Judge Pat Calhoun said debris is continuing to be collected and that about 50 percent of the debris has been picked up. Calhoun said though there was some wind damage to the area, the county was lucky it did not receive worse damage.

"The good Lord blessed us," Calhoun said. "We're recovering, and we're doing well."


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