Getting back to business on South Padre Island
Thu, 15 Sep 2011 04:13:30 GMT —
The news came as a shock.
Four loaded barges crashed into a support beam of the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway in the early morning hours of September 15th, 2001 causing a section of the bridge to collapse.
"I was at home when I got the phone call and the first thought was about the people that lost their lives and what that had to be like said Dan Quandt, Executive Director for South Padre Island.
Eight people died, as their vehicles plunged into the Laguna Madre.
For two and a half months the causeway was closed off and tourist had to take a ferry to get on to south padre island, forcing some local businesses to shut down.
"From a hotel stand point we dropped from September to November 36% compared to the same time the year before" said Dan Quandt.
The bridge re-opened just days before a free Garth Brooks concert.
Something Dan Quandt feared wouldn't happen, but it did.
Once the bridge was up and running again, Quandt said the economy bounced back and ended up 5.6% above normal at the end of the year.
"We see something similar when we have storms, when people have a challenge getting here, they want to get here as fast as they can" said Quandt.
Quandt points out that it was help from residents across the Rio Grande Valley that got the island back onits feet.
And applauds other city leaders for stepping in.
"That was very moving, that our competitors said come over here and support this island, cause they know how much of an impact the island has on the total economy of the area" said Quandt.
There are current plans in place for a second causeway to be built.
That bridge is scheduled to be on the north side of the island.