Matt Pierce Briscoe
Hurricane Hanna made landfall just south of Corpus Christi late Saturday afternoon and it brought more than just wind, rain and high tides. Hurricane Hanna was met curiosity seekers and wannabe Instagram sensations posing for photos and making quick pointless videos that were the meant to be nothing more than social media curiosity click-bait.
Early in the day on Saturday you saw the normal curiosity seekers trying to make their videos. Even the night before people were out and about just as if there was nothing going on and even as if they had a care in the world. But reality is that had a lot to be concerned about and many here made it clear tat they were not going to head the warnings given by local officials.
Local officials had been trying to prepare the local community and the hundreds of vacationers since at least Thursday when they made the formal announcement that area beaches would be closing at noon on Friday. But the problem was is that there was no way that people were going to listen.
“I ain’t trying to come down here and be cooped up in no room,” said Darnell Lewis from Houston. “We come here because we know the beaches in Galveston will be full. I spend good money here and come Monday all these people will be thanking me for it.”
When asked if he was concerned about the crows, coronavirus and the hurricane, Lewis said that he wasn’t.
“I already done got it I think,” he said. “I mean and if I haven’t then am I gonna get while I’m on vacation?”
But Lewis was not the only one out and about without a care in the world. There were plenty of people.
Locals were just as bad about ignoring the dangers and the hazards associated with Hurricane Hanna and even the deadly coronavirus, which claimed thirteen more lives in Nueces County on Friday and Saturday.
“My girl is just out here trying to get some pictures for Instagram,” said Jose Torres of Corpus Christi. “I mean she has like 1,500 followers so she has to to give them what she they want and I support that.”
Torres said that his girlfriend Amanda both new people who worked for a local television station and that they were out trying to get photos to submit for use.
“I mean she knows people who like work in TV here in Corpus and I know a guy who has a Facebook page that reports the real news,” Torres said. “I mean he is really into stuff like this so we are trying to help him and get my girl some attention.”
Were they concerned about the hurricane and coronavirus? They both said that they were not.
“I mean they are making that s*** up, bro,” Torres said. “I mean why don’t they talk about real issues like all these people that are about to need to be rescued? I mean me and my girl are going to help my friend get pictures of that kind of stuff.”
“It has been a long year and we just needed to get away,” Albert Chin said on Friday evening. “The restaurants and places are still open so I think we can still have a good time. Plus, they did not like really close down the beach here.”
Chin said that he and his family feel as if that since they were paying to be here in Corpus Christi, it was up to them how they spent their time here.
“I am a guest here with my family,” he said. “The lady at the front desk told us that they always say that they are closing things but that they never really do. We are going to enjoy it here.”
But as Hurricane Hanna was making landfall just south of Corpus Christi packing winds just shy of Category Two speeds, it seemed as if locals had decided it was their turn to get in on the action and take to the streets.
Just as hurricane Hanna was making landfall in Kenedy County, there was a large amount of people out along the bay front in Corpus Christi taking in the sights and creating traffic jams to get their photos.
Despite the wind, rain and debris people insisted on being out and getting themselves noticed despite the potential risk.
Only hours earlier it’s of Corpus Christi officials and were flanked by Nueces County managers who held a press conference addressing the situation. One thing that they did not do was institute a curfew, which is nearly an accepted practice during almost any hurricane. But this time officials for some reason decided not to do it and it showed as people took to the streets.
“I know one of these boats is about to break off there,” said Chad White, a student at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “I study financial management and I want to learn first hand how weather impacts the financial industry.”
The excuses were as plentiful as the people, even as Governor Abbott took to the airwaves telling the people of Corpus Christi and South Texas that even he and the state were ready to respond.
“Oh yeah? I didn’t even know that he (Governor Abbott) was talking today,” White said. “What is he talking about?”
And it seemed as if that was the attitude that was prevailing—“nothing going on here.”
But in fact, there was something going on here: A Category One hurricane.
A number of people that we spoke with had never experienced a hurricane before and they were out and about trying to get the “full experience.” Many even had their children in tow.
Nearly every person that we spoke with wanted to feel the power of the wind, the sting of the rain and pick up on the scent of the storm. No warning, danger, curfew or restriction was going to stop that and it spread among locals and tourists alike. That mindset ought to have local officials scratching their heads contemplating what happens when the next, possibly even bigger event happens? Will people evacuate or will they go out and joy ride along the bay front to get noticed on Instagram? That is a danger that eventually officials at all levels of state government will have to deal with because if there is one thing that we saw from Hurricane Hanna is that no matter the risk and no matter the danger—people are done listening to warnings.