PORT ARANSAS (KIII NEWS) - In recent years it has been one of the top tourist destinations in Texas, but Port Aransas took quite the damage from Hurricane Harvey, and the recovery continues.
It has been nearly six months since Harvey did damage and roughly 95% of the businesses in Port Aransas were forced to shut down. Now the community is starting to see more business open back up again.
"Everyone came here for school lunch, and it was so packed. I had to park across the street. It's just so great to see local businesses getting back on their feet," Logan Kreutziger said.
"We all just wanted to get back up and support them and get them going again and let them know that that they ran a good business back then, and they are running a good one today," Jim Nielson said.
It was an emotional day for Pizzeria Port A owner Paul Hatridge as customers greeted him with hugs and smiles.
"It's like a big family reunion today it's been a lot of fun: it has," Hatridge said.
It is the restaurant's first day back open since Hurricane Harvey.
"We had to gut this entire restaurant tear out the floors. We stripped it down to the studs and completely re-did it from really the floor on up," Hatridge said.
The reopening was celebrated during a ribbon cutting ceremony, which was a welcome sight to a community that has been through so much.
"To be shut down in any business for a month let alone six is virtually catastrophic," said President and CEO Jeffrey Hentz, Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce.
According to Hentz, some businesses started reopening back in October, but in the past three weeks it has picked up.
"Our restaurants are open or are opening in the next couple of weeks, and we expect that to be 80 percent by the time we get to spring break," Hentz said.
Half of Port Aransas' retail stores are opening or will be. The city is struggling the most in getting hotels and lodging up and running.
"Our lodging industry is so critical to our overall success and supporting our businesses that that's how it all works together, it's so interdependent," Hentz said.
Many hotels and rentals are still waiting for their insurance before they can begin to start over.
'Instead of business, we are open for fun and that same experience and fun that about Port A," Hentz said. "That's going to stay."
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