Views of the Neighborhood – Bird Sanctuaries

I originally made a pledge not to show the personal devastation here in Port Aransas. I am keeping that pledge but feel compelled to show some of the effects of Hurricane Harvey on our three bird sanctuaries. This is a side of a disaster one normally does not see. Also, this is a side of a disaster which by necessity becomes a secondary priority to recovery.  The city has been making repeated pleas to the state and the federal government to release disaster funds to restore basic services. So far, other larger cities have been granted aid while Port Aransas continues to struggle. You can draw a comparison to the city wide damage from these views of the birding centers.

Road to the Alligator

Here is a photo that I took in the summer of the entrance to the Birding center

Here is what is left of the boardwalk

Here is a closer shot of the observation tower

I took this shot of the pier at Charle’s Pasture this summer.

Here is all that remains.

This sign shows the power of the wind

This is a photo looking back toward the pier. You can see the sidewalk is missing.

Paradise Pond

Here is a chalkboard picture I took a while ago at Paradise Pond.

A lone message remains.

Paridise Pond

I also took a picture of the beautiful pond teaming with life.

The way the pond is after the salt water incursion.

Paradise Pond

A previous picture of the Paradise Pond woods and attempts to save a tree taken before the hurricane.

Now all the trees are in danger.

I never got a photo of the new walkway at Paradise Pond but here is what it looks like today.

As you can imagine there is still a lot to do. Thanks for taking this tour. I know it wasn’t very pleasant but if anyone asks, tell them Port Aransas needs some attention from the government.


  1. I certainly hope Port Aransas gets the funds needed to rebuild, John. Your home must have been sturdily built to survive as it did. All the best to Port Aransas. —- Suzanne

    1. Yes, Suzanne. Ours was built in 2007 and has all the latest hurricane designed construction. Most homes in Port A were built after the last hurricane in the 70’s and were not protected as well.

  2. Gwen Plano · ·

    It is heartbreaking to see the devastation, and I am so sorry for all of you. Thank you for sharing the photos; they help us understand the long, long journey of recovery. Blessings….

    1. Thank you, Gwen. Hard to avoid showing when the devastation is all there is to see. 😦

  3. well I hope your funds come…

    “Port Aransas needs some attention from the government.”
    “Port Aransas needs some attention from the government.”

    and this was sad to see- but helps raise awareness –

    1. Yes. You are so right.

  4. I hope you guys get the funds you need. This far away, the stories disappear after the storm loses a name and a numeric designation. Thanks for sharing these photos, John. They remind us that there is still much to be done.

    1. Thanks, Dan. I didn’t want to show the devastation but unfortunately there are now no other views but destroyed buildings and mountains of debris.

      1. I’m looking forward to the contrast between them and the restored beauty. I hope it doesn’t take too long, but I realize you guys have a huge job ahead of you.

      2. I hope so too, Dan

  5. So heartbreaking to view the devastation to your piece of the world. Hope your neighborhood and many others get the support that is so badly needed.

    1. I hope so too. it has been too long now. Thanks,

  6. I’m so sorry to hear Port Aransas isn’t getting the proper attention, John. People outside of the area have no idea, so it’s good of you to document this. By the way, I loved seeing “Fiction Favorites” on the chalkboard…LOL! Have a great Sunday!

    1. Thanks, Jill. I did that as a joke back then. The board that remains says it all.

  7. Good morning, John, and thanks for sharing these pictures, even if looking at them makes me sad. I so love Port A – and then this horrible destruction. I’m keeping my fingers crossed you and your town willl get all the help they need – finally.
    Have a great Sunday,

    1. Thanks, Pit. The foot dragging has been frustrating. Also Port A has no one famous giving concerts etc.

      1. In this case, what attracted [and will still attract] us to Port A, the fact that it is not a “posh” tourist spot, turns out to be a disadvantage.

      2. I think you may be right. Thanks, Pit.

  8. Sorry about the funds. Doesn’t seem right considering you guys are an island on the coast and got mentioned all over the news. Hope someone can find a way to get repairs made.

    1. Thanks. The governor is visiting tomorrow. I think he will get an earful.

  9. So sad. We stayed at the RV park near there and often visited the sanctuary twice a day.

    1. I would go there to check on the alligator. Didn’t get to see her though.

  10. Reblogged this on Jan Hawke INKorporated and commented:
    Well, sometimes you ‘like’ something for showing the truth behind the headlines… 😦 The before and after pictures are from John Howell’s blog regular local photography series and shows some of the damage to Port Aransas’ bird sanctuaries – Nature is indeed the ultimate power of the World and hurricanes are one of the executioners!

    1. Thank you for the reblog and support, Jan.

  11. I’m glad you posted this, even if you’re trying to avoid such things. It can bring awareness your community needs.

    1. Thank you, Craig.

  12. Oh, John, how sad! Hearing about the devastation is definitely not the same as seeing it. Hoping Port Aransas gets the help it needs soon.

    1. I do too. Michelle. Thank you.

  13. Heartbreaking devastation, John. It will be a long road to recovery. Prayers for all.

    1. Thank you, Jan. 😀

  14. Heartbreaking is the perfect word… Other commenters are absolutely right — It’s important to raise awareness.
    Horsefeathers! I realize that many are so ignorant that they think New Mexico is not part of the USA. And clearly Puerto Rico has that problem too… But what do they think? That part of TX succeeded from the Union without taking Houston with it? Honestly…
    Great big hug, my friend. Sharing.

    1. Thanks, Teagan. I knew you would understand.

  15. What a contrast. Thanks for sharing, John. I hope you guys see some relief funds soon.

    1. Thanks, Phillip.

  16. So glad you shared. Nature has been assaulted too. May Port A get some funding for these repairs eventually!

    1. I hope so Jo. Governor arrives tomorrow.

    1. Thank you, Michael.

      1. Its always a pleasure, John! Thx for the information and have a nice week ahead. 😉 Michael

  17. I’m glad you had some Before photos, John; they make the After shots that much more striking. With so much devastation in so many places all at once, I imagine it’s challenging dispersing the funds. And I realize human life must come first. Still, here’s hoping somebody realizes that nature and her critters need help, too.

    1. Thanks, Debbie. 😀

  18. Reblogged this on Words To Captivate ~ by John Fioravanti and commented:
    John W. Howell takes us on a tour of Bird Sanctuaries devasted by Hurricane Harvey in Port Aransas, Texas. Unbelievable.

  19. Reblogged this on mallie1025 and commented:
    Great photos of the power of nature.

    1. Thank you, Micki for the reblog

    1. Thank you for the reblog, Micki

  20. Just heartbreaking, John – hope the funds come through soon.

    1. The Governor visits tomorrow so we will see.

  21. Thank you for the photos, John. They are remarkable, comparing before and after. Best to you.

    1. Thanks, Jennie. 🙂

      1. Best to you, John.

  22. D.L Finn, Author · ·

    Thank you for showing us the reality through the bird sanctuary. I hope the recovery and funds bring it back to its beautiful glory.

    1. I do too. Thank you, DL

  23. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    John Howell shares photos from Port Aransas where the hurricane damage is not just about the power and other utilities but the devastation of the hard work of the residents to create a sanctuary for wildlife and access to their natural habitats. It took years to create and will take many more to restore. It seems to me as an outsider that perhaps the money being spent on building walls might be better spent in paying for this instead..

    1. Thank you, Sally.

  24. I am so sorry you have not gotten the funding you so need. I hope it comes though for you. Thank you for raising awareness of the situation.

    1. Thank you, Brigid. I think time will take care of the problem.

  25. paulandruss · ·

    John there is a saying that when 1 person is affected it is a tragedy but when it happens to thousands it is a statistic. It is amazing how these simple photographs bring home the true devastation to area and ten leave you thinking of all the Various elements of human loss and suffering. A poignant and deeply affecting post.

    1. Thank you, Paul. There are a number of photos that cannot be published since they are way too personal for the victims.

  26. paulandruss · ·

    John for what it is worth I think you handled it just right… it was a very moving reminder showing great sensitivity.

    1. Thank you, Paul. I appreciate your insight. 🙂

  27. Thanks for sharing John. I’m so sorry to see this and didn’t really want to ‘like’. Prayers for healing and rebuilding. 🙂

    1. I know what you mean. Thanks for the kind thoughts, Debby.

      1. Of course John. 🙂

  28. Oh, John. I’m keeping you guys in my prayers.

    1. Thank you, Audrey.

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