Hot. Humid. and now ocean breeze, yet…
Left Galveston for home after spending an hour in the water, and a half hour flying a kite. Wind was too variable for my new stunt kite (well, technically, too variable for ME to run my new stunt kite.) The early part of the day the sea was calm and quiet, cooler, and there was no breeze at all. It was like floating in the bathtub. The wind picked up and so did the waves, and it eventually started raining. So we beat feet back to Houston, where — it started raining shortly after we got home. At least we didn’t have to drive in it.
Everything was fine at home, and the dog is happily tucked into his bed next to my wife as I write this.
I had a couple of observations comparing this trip to our last visit to Galveston. We never go into town, or do tourist-y things, just the beach. That said, it was super quiet in town and at the beach. To get to where we stayed you have to basically drive along 12 miles of oceanfront, which I’ve never seen as empty as this week. Even if I went down for an auction pickup, the beaches and parking along the beach, were always busy. Not this week.
Our beachhouse rental happened because they didn’t have a booking and reduced the rate enough that my wife jumped on it. They didn’t have a rental for this weekend either. As is normal for second homes/beach/lake/or other houses, the owners use them for part of the year and count on rentals during the rest of the year to pay the upkeep and outrageously high taxes. With rentals down, there are sure to be families that lose houses that have been in their families for a long time (pretty much the only way normal people end up with beach houses is they inherit them. The only way to keep them is as income properties.) If investors and speculators playing a cash flow rental property game lose out, I’m not that heartbroken. There are risks with every reward, and airbnb super renters are not much more than gamblers in my book.
There was a lot of economic collateral damage visible too, with restaurants and other small businesses closed. Even the strip clubs were shuttered. We would normally have eaten out at least one night, and probably would have bought at least some food and drink in local stores. Instead we brought it all in with us (the owner told us we should) and cooked for ourselves.
One of the things I noticed was the complete lack of commercial shipping visible. Last time we were down there, there was a line of ships waiting to get into the bay to unload that stretched across half the horizon. This time there were NONE. I didn’t see any steaming in or out either.
There are usually a couple of sport fishers out and visible too. Only one this trip in three days of looking.
Road traffic was light both going and coming home, even though we were coming north on the Beltway into an area that is reliably congested on most afternoons, and backed up and slow on a typical Friday. We sailed right through the toll plaza with barely a brake light showing. This is the last weekend before school starts, and would normally be crowded with trailers and RVs trying to get out of town. Not now.
There are going to be some really long term effects on real estate from this year’s events. If you have the money and want to live in NYFC, apparently rents and sale prices are WAY down already. Elsewhere there are going to be vacation houses for sale soon, as people can’t make the payments, or pay the taxes. Local economies based on tourism are either going to crater, or see an influx of new ‘refugee’ residents, vis The Hamptons or other toney areas near NYFC. Good schools and high speed internet are probably going to be very important to which way each community goes. The influx of people from a different culture is going to be disruptive to those communities too. It’s also probably going to depend on if the community has a lot of outsiders who are familiar with that community. The Hamptons are already familiar to the new monied ‘refugees’ whereas Panama City Beach, or Galveston draw primarily from the local area anyway. There will be some even longer term effects when the new ‘refugees’ realize there are good reasons not to live in those resort areas year ’round…
Stepping aside from all that for a moment, it looks like Florida and the Gulf Coast are about to get smacked around by TWO named storms in the same week. Or one giant superstorm, if the Gates have opened and the Horsemen are on the prowl….
All of it tells me that we really ‘ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.’ And there will be opportunities for the prepared and well positioned, as well as devastation for the unwise and unlucky. I know which of those groups I want to be in. I want you in there too, so get stacking…