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Life Doesn’t Get Rebuilt in a Year

Recovery efforts are still taking place here in December 2021. These articles can be used for those doing research on Hurricane Harvey.

Sandy beach with sandals on it.

Sandy beach with sandals on it.

Port Aransas, Texas

Most of you know my name or have seen my articles on the Harvey Recovery efforts. I have talked with many residents of Port Aransas and seen firsthand 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.

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 in Oct. 2016 and by Oct 2017 when a place was needed for donations and distribution of supplies for Port A resident, 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 started happening for all of Port Aransas.


The Many Blessings

I have come across some great locals in the area who have 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 who 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 who require it.

With help from those giving their whole heart and soul to help others, I feel the need to mention two that helped set up the donation center. Noe Cantu and Elsie Preciado, thank you for your service.

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 two organizations helped make this easier, Rebuild Texas helps with replacing and repairing not only houses but mobile homes and RV’s. The Austin Disaster Relief Network of 175 churches from Austin has blessed the Donation center with emergency funds for food and gas.


A green building with damage to it.

A green building with damage to it.

The Mission


Community Connection, A Festival of the Heart and Soul, brought awareness and help to those still in need on May 19, 2018. 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 Aransas area.

The funds 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 to get what each house needs to be repaired or rebuilt. The materials help rebuild someone's dreams.

They give all their efforts to help each person who calls them for help. However, sometimes what they are asked is beyond what they are capable of doing, but they will try to find someone that can help.

Boats parked at a marina.

Boats parked at a marina.

Aransas Pass, Small Fishing Villiage

Even though many in the Coastal Bend Area are 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 comeback 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 in need of assistance and just don't know where to go get it.

I still hear these same comments from all across the Coastal Bend.

Reaching Out

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 need. I respect that and try to help find the assistance they are looking for.

So many in the area 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 also to where help can be found.

One last thought: “Life doesn’t get rebuilt in a year, but it can move forward with help.”

Resources

These were the resources available at the time I wrote this piece. These people did so much for the residents of this area. But did you know those who ran and volunteered in these resources, lived here, and were also affected by Harvey?


* 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 when life is more about caring for others than material goods. They have blessed me in ways they will never know, and for that I am thankful.

In 2022, an update to all my Harvey stories will be out in book form.

© 2018 Joanna Blackburn

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