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.
Rebuilding Ingleside On the Bay After Hurricane Harvey
As I explored Ingleside on the Bay, the beauty astounded me. There are so many different trees that Hurricane Harvey couldn't knock down. Everywhere I looked there were palm trees of all kinds, fruit trees full of fruit and some very unusual ones that I don't know what they were. (Like the one above)
Hurricane Harvey did its fair share of damage to this community. Homes and business alike were taken apart and strewn about. The one thing it couldn't do was break the bond that this community has for its neighbors.
Every morning I headed out to see if there was something I had missed the day before. With the fog being so thick in the mornings I was sure there was some hidden treasure I hadn't captured. I headed down Inglewood Drive to a park my friend had told me about.
I'm almost at the park when a sweet crackling and humming sound caught my ears. The singing trees where blowing in the wind. Anyway, I thought they were trees. I looked closer at the trees and realized it was very tall groups of bamboo that were the cause of the music. As you can see from the photo below why I thought they were trees at first. As I passed the row of trees, a pale green building caught my eye.
I add this part to show the beauty that surrounds this area and the feeling you have as you walk about. I had never seen such beauty mixed in with such devastation as I have found in this area. I want you to understand how I find my stories I write about.
I turned the corner and stopped as I entered an empty field. This was what was left of Cove Park. Nothing like I expected to see. Along one side was trash from the bay hanging on a fence, but right in front of the cove was one park bench to sit on. Across the here, a pale green color caught my eye once again, so I head that way. I walked past what was left of the boat ramp and onto a small fishing pier, where many birds greeted me. These birds seemed to pose for pictures, so I watched and waited. I couldn't believe that this small pier had survived Hurricane Harvey.
As I turned to snap the picture I had been waiting for, I spotted a small building. I just stared at the sign, Dolphin Connection, I knew this was a story to be told. Walking over to it, my heart felt a tug of remorse, the damage made me sad. There was little left of it.
Dolphin Connection 6 Months after Hurricane Harvey
Sonja Strong's Story to reopen Dolphin Connection
This is her story of trying to get life back to normal. More than 30 years ago Sonja Strong and her husband started this business as a way of sharing their passion for dolphins with others. With her knowledge of Dolphins and their behavior, she wanted others to understand these awesome creatures.
Six months ago Hurricane Harvey changed her whole life. She lost her home, her passion, her boat, her dock, but not her desire to share the dolphins with others.
Two weeks after I got back to Oklahoma I spoke with Sonja on the phone. She had just that week gotten back into her home. She was filled with mixed emotions. The outside of the house was done, but there was nothing inside. She told me she didn't even have basic supplies, she had lost everything in the hurricane.
During this conversation, she voiced that she wasn't sure if she could rebuild Dolphin Connection because the money was not there.
A Different View
My second interview brought great news to my ears and heart. A group from Ohio had come down and helped her finish her home. She was happy and on top of the world as we spoke.
For the last 30 years, Sonja has dedicated her life to educating others about dolphin by doing dolphin tours. So what is the Dolphin Connection all about? You take a ride on a boat ride to go see dolphins up close and personal. You get close enough you can almost touch them.
Happy to Announce
I am happy to announce she is opened for business. Not off of her own dock, but for now she will be loading and unloading passengers at the Bahia Marina.
She is not sure when her own dock can be rebuilt, but she holds out hope that it will happen.
Sonja has filled many pages with information on the behavior and habitats of different dolphins, not only salt-water ones. She believes the more you know about them the more likely you are to love and respect them. The dolphins that swim in Ingleside Cove and the La Quinta Channel have a personal connection with her, they are the reason she finds strength every day to get up and fight for another day.
My Final Thoughts
Sonja is #TexasStrong in every effort she makes to recover from a life-changing event. Let us show her we support her efforts by dropping by her website and leave her a kind word of support. Her struggle to recover is far from over, but at least now she can see the Sunshine through the clouds.