When Hurricane Harvey hit I helped the only way I could. Writing these stories brought help to those who needed it.
Life Doesn't Get Rebuilt in a Year
Just Remember This
Most of you know my name or have seen my articles on the Harvey Recovery efforts. I have talked with many of the residents of Port Aransas and seen first hand the heartache of all those recovering. Even though the road to recovery is well underway, it is far from over. Each survivor is in a different stage of recovering efforts. Some are still displaced, homes are still in the same state that Harvey left them. Some have walls and nothing more. While others have finished rebuilding their homes but not their life yet. My goal has been to bring awareness that there is still much that needs to be done and can be done with the love of their neighbors.
Rising Up and Helping Your Neighbor
Residents dug deep inside of themselves and stepped up to help one another. Day by day they give all they got to help their neighbors and community, even when their own had been destroyed. Even with so many resources for help closing their doors, new ones will open theirs. But there is one that has been here from the start and will be here for the long-term recovery, Sandcastle Church.
Sandcastle Church started Oct. 2016 and by Oct 2017 when a place was needed for donations and distribution of supplies for Port A residents, Andrew Erben stepped up even though his home and church had taken a hit from Harvey. This began their road to helping others rebuild their dreams.
With donations flooding in from Facebook and the donation center, Bobbi and Andrew Erben helped others make their home livable. They had just completed their 7th home when they got the Rebuild Texas Grant. Then things really started happening for all of Port A.
Others Who Are Willing to Continue Helping
I have come across some great locals in the area that has been so busy helping others that they still need help. Bobbi and Andrew combined their efforts with many of these local resources, with Texas Resources and national resources to bring help in all forms to the residents affected by Harvey.
Even those that no longer live in the area, are reaching out to help their fellow neighbors. Like Furnishing Port A which was started by a school teacher in Austin, Martha Cherico Smith. She brought down her first load of furniture and met Bobbi and they have been a team ever since. These two individuals search for help for those that need it.
With help from those giving their whole heart and soul to help others, I feel the need to mention two that helped with setting up the donation center. Noe Cantu and Elsie Preciado, thank you for your service.
The Many Blessings
Bobbi from Sandcastle Church wants everyone to know, “We were blessed with three amazing partners to support us in this phase of recovery - -The Susan and Michael Dell Foundation Rebuild Texas Fund, The Austin Disaster Relief Network and Martha Cherico-Smith. Each of the partners is bringing much-needed resources to Port Aransas to aid in the long-term Recovery.”
With shifting to Help Rebuild Mode there are two organizations that helped make this easier, Rebuild Texas help with replacing and repair not only to houses but mobile homes and Rv’s. The Austin Disaster Relief Network of 175 churches from Austin have blessed the Donation center with emergency funds for food and gas.
The Mission is Simple, But Large
As a large group effort, May 19, 2018 Community Connection, A Festival of the Heart and Soul brought awareness and help to those still in need. SandCastle Church partnered with Coastal Bend Disaster Relief Group, Catholic Charities, Episcopal Church, Port Aransas New Fund, and Trinity Lutheran to combine their efforts on all cases in the Port A area.
The funds that have been donated have gone to roofing supplies, insulation, and drywall, as well as permits and contractors. They are accepting gift cards from Lowe’s, Home Depot and McCoy’s Building Supplies, in order to get what each house needs to be repaired or rebuilt. The materials help rebuild someone's dreams.
All efforts are given to help each person that calls them for help. With that said, sometimes what they are asked are beyond what they are capable of doing, but they will try to find someone that can help.
Bringing Life and Color Back Into Their World
Small Fishing Village With a Big Heart
Even though many in the Coastal Bend Area were affected by Hurricane Harvey and the recent flooding event, their hopes and dreams never died. They take pride in their community and their neighbors.
Like Aransas Pass is just a small fishing village, that time after time has made a come back after a devastating blow. The friendly caring atmosphere seems to make outsiders feel right at home. Something, I have learned is the normal way of life here.
I had many tell me this, "Living where we do, we expect hurricanes and flooding, but we didn't expect the overwhelming love that came our way."
One resident of Aransas Pass, Riley R., recently shared her story with me but kept insisting that others needed help more than she did. She even gave names of those that are in real need of assistance and just don't know where to go get it.
I still to this day, hear these same comments from all across the Coastal Bend.
Many residents of Rockport have reached out to me, telling me their story, but not wanting it public. They just want to know where they can go to find the help they are in need of. I respect that and try to help find the assistance they are looking for.
So many in the area that were hit by this traumatic event are overwhelmed. Without phones, television or social media they have no way to find the needed help.
That is why I keep writing. Maybe someone will see something that can help their neighbor and tell them about it. I am bringing awareness not only to the area but awareness of where help can be found.
One last thought: “Life doesn’t get rebuilt in a year, but it can move forward with help.”
* New Beginnings Church in Rockport is a free "thrift store" with clothing for all Coastal Bend Residents.
*Rockport Relief Camp found between Aransas Pass and Rockport.
*Sharing His Harvest, is still helping all affected.
*Unit 26 Recovery is now open to helping surrounding areas with furniture.
*First Baptist Church in Rockport are still holding events to help everyone
A Personal Note From Me
The few months I have lived among these residents will stay with me forever. I believe I have found a better world, a step into a time where life is more about caring for others than about material goods. They have blessed me in ways they will never know and for that I am thankful.
Joanna Blackburn (author) from Texas on July 27, 2018:
Thank you for reading what I write. I am grateful for the gift of writing that the dear Lord has given me.
Thora Jendrzey on July 26, 2018:
May the Dear Lord bless you and all you do always sweet angel
Joanna Blackburn (author) from Texas on July 19, 2018:
Thank you for helping spread the word.
Leia McLester on July 19, 2018:
Rockport Relief camp is located on 3036 between Fulton and Rockport. It is inside Rockport city limits on your way to Fulton. People need proper directions to find help.
First Baptist Church is still helping and have volunteers coming through the summer months.
Joanna Blackburn (author) from Texas on July 18, 2018:
Thank you for sharing. This means a lot to not only to me but so many out there.
Kimberly Hull on July 18, 2018:
Umcore in Aransas Pass help me, maybe they can help someone else. 361 758 2233. 523 s. 8th street.
Joanna Blackburn (author) from Texas on July 17, 2018:
Thank you for taking the time to read it and comment. This means a lot to me. I will not forget, nor will I let the world forget that help is still needed.
Liz Westwood from UK on July 17, 2018:
This is a heartwarming article. So often national media moves on to the next big news item and those picking up the pieces after a disaster are quickly forgotten. This article helps to keep the clear up operation in the public eye.
Joanna Blackburn (author) from Texas on July 16, 2018:
Thank you for taking the time to read it and comment. This means a great deal to me. It lets me know I'm reaching people who might need it.
Rida Fatima021 on July 16, 2018:
loved it !
Joanna Blackburn (author) from Texas on July 15, 2018:
Thank You Jodi Deleplank. I enjoyed talking to you about this article. I am working on another one.
jodi deleplank on July 15, 2018: