SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Mother Nature gave Island officials a scare.
It also put them on high alert.
Ultimately, Hurricane Harvey only blew heavy winds the Island’s way, causing a voluntary evacuation, the shutdown of the Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge for a few hours and the evacuation of high profile vehicles.
But no damage to South Padre Island was reported.
“I’m very thankful that our Island was spared most of Hurricane Harvey’s wrath,” said Dennis Stahl, SPI mayor-elect. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to our fellow Texans who have suffered significant damage.”
Island officials began tracking Harvey days before landfall, and were preparing for the worst.
Meteorologists were saying the storm would hit anywhere along a wide swath of the Texas coast, including the popular beach town.
So the beaches were closed, hundreds of sandbags were distributed and some residents voluntarily evacuated the Island.
“I’m extremely proud of City Manager Susan Guthrie and the entire city team for the many long hours of preparation and dedication to ensure our Island was ready for a possible storm strike,” Stahl said.
“As city leaders, we can never take a forecast of a tropical storm or hurricane for granted.”
Even the best meteorology science can’t fully gauge the landfall location of a Gulf storm.
“We are better protected as an island for the future as a result of the drill that Hurricane Harvey provided us this past week,” Stahl said.
The safety of the Island residents, visitors and the protection of the barrier island is always Priority One.
He said the city team worked exceptionally well. Some employees had never been through the kind of drill they performed to get ready for the storm’s impact.
He said people must be ready to change the course of their preparations just as storms change courses in the Gulf.
“The city staff was spectacular and we had great plans in place that we didn’t have to execute on,” Stahl said.
“We were spared; the whole Rio Grande Valley was.”