Hurricane Hanna has come and gone in the Coastal Bend, as Kingsville, Bishop, Ricardo and Riviera saw the impacts of the Category 1 storm from Friday until Sunday.
The storm made landfall on Saturday out in Padre Island before making a secondary landfall in Kenedy County, about 40 miles south of Riviera.
Although the storm made landfall a few miles away from the Kleberg County and Bishop areas, local officials took extra precautions in the area to ensure the safety of residents in the area.
The City of Kingsville also took precautionary measures by first offering sand bags to area residents at the Kingsville Public Works site on Friday morning, as well as offering self-serve sand to local residents at the Trash-Off location on Avenue B and Sixth Street.
Both sites continued to provide service to residents until 4 p.m. on Friday, as the self-serve sand site was replenished four times to make up for need.
As the storm continued to form on Friday afternoon, Kleberg County Judge Rudy Madrid had issued a voluntary evacuation order for Loyola Beach, Baffin Bay, Ricardo and Riviera areas, due to "an imminent threat of danger," caused by then, Tropical Storm Hanna.
Madrid later that afternoon also ordered the beaches in Kleberg County to be closed.
On Friday evening, both Madrid and City of Kingsville Mayor Sam Fugate signed Disaster Declarations for the area, as well as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, in order to seek assistance for the damage the storm may have caused.
Saturday morning, Madrid activated the FEMA dome at H.M. King High School to be used for residents seeking shelter from the storm.
Officials said multiple residents sought shelter at
the dome, which was activated for public use for the first time since being constructed.
Throughout the day on Saturday, the wind and rain was strong enough to cause some damage to area residences, stores and other properties, mostly in the Riviera and Ricardo areas.
The Riviera Pier was damaged, as well other piers belonging to residents along the Baffin Bay waters, Madrid said on Monday.
Throughout the weekend, local government leadership was in contact with Nueces Electric Cooperative and AEP Texas crews who worked to restore power to nearly 2,700 residents in the area.
AEP Texas representatives said on Monday that only 10 customers in Kingsville were without power, as 67 percent of all impacted customers had their power restored.
Both the City of Kingsville and Kleberg County officials are still doing damage assessment as of press time, and are asking area residents to report any damages to the Office of Emergency Management.
At Monday's Kleberg County Commissioner's Meeting, Judge Madrid said he wanted to thank the county and city employees and residents for their efforts during and after the storm hit the area.
"We did a tremendous job working together," Madrid said. "Thank God the City of Kingsville missed the brink (of the storm), but (Baffin Bay) didn't. There's a lot of people out there, during a time of pandemic when funds are limited, who lost a big portion of their property... we need to be cognitive of that."
Clean up efforts will continue, Madrid said, throughout the week, by the county and City of Kingsville personnel.
Kleberg County officials announced the death of Pct. 4 Kleberg County Commissioner Zaragoza "Shorty" Salinas on Tuesday morning.
A statement sent to the Kingsville Record from Kleberg County Judge Rudy Madrid confirmed the commssioner's death.
"It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that our Commissioner Salinas has passed," Madrid said. "Shorty was an amazing individual and a true friend to us all. His devotion to our senior citizens and underserved population was like no other. He will truly be missed. This is a sad day for Kleberg County. God Bless Him and his entire family."
The Kingsville Record reached out to family members of Salinas, who said they would appreciate prayers and privacy for their loss at this time.
Next week's edition of the Kingsville Record will feature more on Salinas, his time as Pct. 4 Commissioner for Kleberg County and his impact on the community.
The total number of Kleberg County positive COVID-19 cases eclipsed 300 over the last week, as more individuals continue to be removed from isolation.
A total of 86 individuals were removed from isolation from July 21 to Monday, bringing the total number of cases removed from isolation to 221.
Officials also said that two more individuals have since died in that time frame, bringing the number of deaths in Kleberg County to three.
There are now 311 cumulative cases of COVID-19 in Kleberg County, with 89 active cases as of Tuesday morning.
Leading into the final week in the month of July, a record 241 cases have been announced in Kleberg County.
That's the most cases reported in a single month since Kleberg County began reporting cases, and is larger than all other months from March to June combined.
"We continue to work diligently day-in and dayout with Region 11 Health Department to ensure, and reinforce, accurate accountability of all cases being reported to Kleberg County immediately upon any individual reporting positive for COVID-19," Kleberg County Judge Rudy Madrid said in a statement. "They have re-assured us that they are working with area hospitals and physicians to ensure that any COVID-19 related deaths are being investigated and confirmed so that the state can properly report them to us."
Madrid urged all Kleberg County residents to remain vigilant.
"Let's not let our guard down. Please continue to adhere to all safety measures being recommended by both county state and governmental agencies! God Bless." Kingsville City Manager Mark McLaughlin echoed that sentiment. "The City of Kingsville remains in constant communication with Judge Madrid and Kleberg County staff to gather statistics on the prevalence of cases in Kingsville and the surrounding communities that impact our city," McLaughlin said. "We are fortunate that last few days have shown a decline in active COVID-19 cases, but we must continue to follow all safety measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, Texas DSHS and Governor Greg Abbott in order to limit further spread, protect those most vulnerable in our community and prevent deaths that impact us all."
Officials said the City of Kingsville will keep the Brookshire Pool, the Flores Park Splash Pad and all playgrounds and park restrooms closed until further notice.
The Kleberg County portion of North Padre Island is closed to traffic through August 1, unless amended by Madrid.
Pedestrians are allowed on the beach to walk, jog and exercise except during curfew hours which are from 8:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. This does not impact Baffin Bay or Loyola Beach.
Free testing by the Texas Military Department took place at the JK Northway Exposition Center on July 27 and 28.
On Monday, a total of 222 tests were administered to individuals in the area.
The tests are oral swab PCR tests and will take 5-10 days to be evaluated, and officials will share information about more possible positive cases from the testing site when the information is available.
Updated testing numbers for Tuesday will be available online at Kingsvillerecord.com.
Law enforcement in Kleberg County will now be able to monitor the waterways in the county closer than ever before thanks to the most recent purchase of a patrol boat for the Kleberg County Sheriff's Office.
Earlier this year at the January 27 Kleberg Count Commissioners Meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously for the KCSO to purchase the boat to be used on Kleberg County waters, including Baffin Bay in Riviera.
The boat originally cost about $60,000, but with modifications including a new radio system, lights, a radar system, its own onboard WiFi network and other specifications to aid in search and rescue, the total cost neared $80,000.
Kleberg County Sheriff Richard Kirkpatrick said the purchase of the boat was not purchased with taxpayer money, but with money from the Operation Stonegarden Grant Program, which the KCSO received in 2018.
The OPSG Program supports enhanced cooperation and coordination among Customs and Border Protection (CBP), United States Border Patrol (USBP), and local, tribal, territorial, state, and Federal law enforcement agencies, according to the CBP website.
The OPSG Program funds investments in joint efforts to secure the United States borders along routes of ingress from international borders to include travel corridors in states bordering Mexico and Canada, as well as states and territories with international water borders.
Kirkpatrick said the boat itself was purchased with the OPSG grant.
"The remainder of that was paid for through forfeiture funds," Kirkpatrick said. "So if you're looking at it from a taxpayer standpoint, it didn't cost the taxpayers any tax money locally. So we're very, very fortunate for that."
The reason for the purchase of the boat, Kirkpatrick said, is because of the amount of water that resides within the count limits.
"Kleberg County is comprised of 209 square miles of water, which is actually about 19 percent of Kleberg County," he said. "There are cabins out here; people like to come and fish on the weekends and we've actually had more calls (in the bay) since the coronavirus pandemic has occurred. We've had several calls out there for service pertaining to gun violence, alcohol related issues, burglaries, thefts you name it."
As for regular usage of the boat, Kirkpatrick said he has about five reserve officers who are certified to do "marine enforcement functions," who will be out on the water periodically to be on patrol.
"The grant pays for them to go an work," Kirkpatrick said. "It's not necessarily on call, or as needed, it's just whenever they want to go (on the water) they can. They have the latitude to come out here whenever they deem necessary."
Kirkpatrick said these officers will also help to assist other law enforcement personnel who will be patrolling the water.
"We just want to augment the ongoing operations that we have out here pertaining to border patrol and some of other personnel that are out here such as game wardens and that sort of thing, because they can only do so much," Kirkpatrick said.