S. Padre Island turning tourists away

July 26, 2008 11:27:57 AM PDT
Weekend tourists were being turned away from this popular vacation destination as officials cleaning up after Hurricane Dolly declared the island closed for business. Three days after the Category 2 hurricane made landfall, power was not expected to be restored until next week at the earliest.

Dan Quandt, executive director of the island's Convention and Visitors Bureau, said it was the first time he had urged people not to visit, the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News reported Saturday.

"So many people are calling saying they want to come to the beach, and we're saying, 'No,"' he said. "This is not a time to sightsee down here. We are actually going to have law enforcement at the causeway saying if you don't have business being here, you're going to have to turn around."

Further inland, floodwaters were receding but crews were still rescuing stranded people in rural areas.

Many roads remained impassable, businesses were closed and, in some areas, gasoline was hard to come by.

Workers were trying to get large generators to South Padre and the Port Isabel area to get fuel pumps operating, Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos said.

Brenda Cichon, 57, of Arlington, said little things would have helped once Dolly started pounding South Padre for seemingly endless hours. Cichon said officials underestimated the storm's impact.

"I think the worst thing is that probably up to the last minute they really didn't think it was going to be as bad as it was," she said.

One of the leading spring break destinations, South Padre Island remains a strong draw through the summer, even as temperatures reach the 90s.

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