As a freelance journalist, I wanted to help those affected by Harvey. So I headed to the coast to learn what was really needed to help.
Port Aransas, Texas: The Road to Recovery
As new businesses open their doors, we watch old ones being bulldozed. Its bittersweet to stand on the road and realize the left side business had been there for years and the right side business is just beginning.
Something Port Aransas has recovered from Hurricane Harvey because the main traffic areas look nice. But take any side street or step into any of the houses that look done and you will see a truth. Stepping into many homes, I saw the same thing over and over, a shell. There was no walls, no electric, no water, no personal stuff, no kitchen to cook in and no bathrooms.
This is not true for residents. As the old was pushed away by Harvey the new has yet to arrive. They sit in the middle with "Life On Pause", as Mrs. Klo stated.
10 Months After Hurricane Harvey
After 10 months of struggling, hoping tourist would return and bring in the much-needed revenue to help those still without a home to live in. There are many you didn't get the help they needed and still need your help. First, let me explain what I mean by help. Physical help that is given for free. There are so many that just need a set of extra arms to move a tree off their house or tear down a wall to replace. Many of the elderly, disabled and single-parent households need that extra hand to help them in the recovery process. There were many of these households that were scammed out of their many by contractors and still don't have a home to live in.
As I struggle to write these stories of Port Aransas residents, I see changes every day for some, while others are furious that the insurance they pay every month is treating them so badly.
Sad to say, but that reality for help and recovery is only for some. Those that didn't own their home or business have been forgotten and pushed to the side by everyone outside of Port Aransas. This is why groups like Knights of Columbus and A New Day In Port A have stepped up. This is also why local churches like Sandcastle Church and Trinity by the Sea have stepped in to help locals find their footing towards recovery and rebuilding.
"Life On Pause"
I went to interview one of the locals, I had the address but GPS couldn't find it. I tried OnStar, they couldn't find it but could put us in the general area. So after driving around for awhile, I finally found the house I had been looking for, Raymond Klo's house. I can't call it a home yet, and you will soon see why.
Parked in front of a bright yellow was two travel trailers with a piece of wood with the address wrote on it. I looked up and down the outside of the house, thinking that they must have gotten some help in the last week. As I stepped through their front door, I entered a whole different world. Studs were all that could be seen. My heart ached for this family and their situation.
As Richard escorted me through his front door, all my joy drained and I stood stunned. It was only the bare bones of a house, a simple shell. As we spoke, I learned a lot of repairs had already been done, but because the contractor didn't follow Windstorm Code it all has to be redone.
The flood insurance only paid for the bottom part of the house even though it rained for days inside the house because the roof had been blown into their neighbor's house. Fema paid for one wall even though the others were just as damaged.
The Port Aransas stories I hear have my heart in knots. Wondering what can be done to help those that have fallen through the cracks. So many of the residents rented their homes and now have been displaced. The Owners of those homes are waiting for insurance so that they can begin the repair work, and some will just knock them down.
Everywhere you go, you see destruction and hope at the same time. You see neighbor helping neighbors and small businesses slowly coming back to life. Finally, there are places to go to take a break from the constant reminder of how far they still have to go.
You can see the beauty of Port A in the souls of the residents. Even when all looks lost, they hold on and persevere.
Even though many homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Harvey, but not the spirit of the people. Port Aransas is slowly making a come back.
The heart of my stories is to bring awareness to the fact that they still need help. I'm not talking just financial but physical free help. They need volunteers to help those who can't do it alone or don't know where to start.
One lady has a tree on her house and with no money from insurance yet, she can't pay to have it removed. She only needs someone with the know-how, to help her get the tree off of her house so she can begin the recovery process. The house is too unsafe to go in and clean it out because of the tree, so she waits.
this is the type of help they need right now. Please go help them.
No matter what kind of help you need, please call these three churches to help you in your recovery process.
Sandcastle Church 361-230-5706
Trinity By the Sea Church 361-749-6449
Presbyterian Church 361-749-5319
These three churches that are now a major resource for the Port A residents were all damaged by Harvey and have not fully recovered because they are busy helping the residents of Port Aransas with there needs.
If your not a Port Aransas resident, you can call these churches and see what you can do to help them recover.