Rebuilding Port Aransas After Hurricane Harvey-Part 3 in #TexasStrong series

Updated on April 3, 2018
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After my recent 3 week stay in South Texas, I am working on a Series of Texas Strong Stories. The mixed emotions are still fresh in my mind

Rebuilding Port Aransas After Hurricane Harvey

Can anyone tell me why these poles are decorated?
Can anyone tell me why these poles are decorated? | Source

Port Aransas Continues to Struggle

Port A, as the locals call it, is a resort and fishing community, so a good majority of the residents own some kind of business. This is what makes it such a special place to live.

This community is still in recovery mode. By this I mean neighbors helping neighbors to rebuild and survive after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. So many residents have told me that before they helped themselves they were out helping others. After 7 months, neighbors are still helping neighbors in many ways.

Port Aransas is one big family, that cares about each other well being, and they deserve not to be forgotten. Fishing is a way of survival here, it is their business and I would love to see them going full force again. If you can, find a place and donate to their recovery, not through a fundraiser, but to that person or place.

The stories in my #TexasStrong series are the struggles of Texans not letting Hurricane Harvey win. The needs of these survivors are still great and one woman set out to do what she could to help.

Where is this Community?

One School Teacher is Making a Difference

As I searched for my next story I found several groups on Facebook dedicated to helping those affected in the coastal area. I joined looking for those who are willing to let me tell their story. My first response came with in minutes.

Martha Cherico Smith made a suggestion that I do one one Billy Joe Wilson. My heart wanted to know who the woman was that would suggest someone else instead of herself. I was shocked when I found out. She runs Furnishing Port Aransas and this is her story. Then I will tell Billy's story in the next article.

Martha is a 6th grade teacher at Harmony Science Academy in Pflugerville, Tx and this is how she came about painting furniture and bringing them to the residents of Port Aransas.

Not New, but you cant' tell it.

Survivors just wanted somewhere to store what little they had left.
Survivors just wanted somewhere to store what little they had left. | Source

What made you decide to do this?

When I asked Martha why she started painting the furniture that was donated, I learned so much more about the project and the woman. So here is her story.

"Before Hurricane Harvey, I had a side business painting and selling furniture. After Hurricane Harvey, I decided to donate pieces instead of selling them. Her friend Chris Templeton had a furniture drive, but he found out that agencies wouldn't accept used furniture."

After talking to the residents of Port Aransas, she knew they needed help. They just wanted someplace to put what little they had left. So she started asking for furniture donations and what she got was not in the best shape. So she painted them so residents would have something beachy and new to them, not just a hand me down. She has a Facebook group called, Furnishing Port A for those that need furniture in the area look her up.

There is so much more to this lady and I must tell her whole story so that all will know that there is still help out there for those that need it.


Overwhelming Response

Donations that have been painted.
Donations that have been painted. | Source

When Martha started repairing and painting furniture for those in Port Aransas that had been affected by Hurricane Harvey, she had no idea how expensive it was going to be. She only knew how great the need was. By her second load she was quickly discovering how costly this project was going to be. But there was no way she was going to let that stop her from help the residents.

In November she posted a fundraiser to help cover the cost of a storage unit. In late December she started promoting the fundraiser because donations were flowing in faster than she could repair and paint them. Then she would have to rent a trailer to haul the furniture to those who needed a place to put what little they had left.

What had started out as a simple act of kindness had grown into a full time job on top of her teaching full time. She could use volunteers to help with repairing the donated furniture, and with prepping the furniture for delivery.

Teaching Humanity

She said she talks with her class about the needs of the people who lost everything. Martha has gone so far as to acquire a high school group called, S.P.A.R.K., Students Promoting Random Acts of Kindness and a middle school group called. S.P.A.R.K.lets. These groups seek ways to help others.


Thanks must be given to all the following for their kind and caring hearts

: Dan Taylor,

Melanie & Steve Hudson,

Gregory Carpenter,

Rebecca Miller,

Darren Davila,

Kim O'Keefe,

Veronique Matthews,

Justin Perkins,

John Cherico,

Allison Hunt,

and Bobbie Erbon,

— from Martha Cherico Smith

Neighbors helping Strangers

Martha got some unsuspected help from The owners of Miss Kitty's Fishing Getaway. Dawn and Shannon Huff both helped with Furnishing Port A while trying to rebuild their own home and business.

Sometimes a good cause catches on like wildfire and just grows. Martha had no idea how big this project would turn out to be or how much help would be needed when she started. But with the help of many wonderful selfless people, she has so much furniture to give away. Easter weekend she took down her 8th load of furniture. This team of volunteers gives of themselves to perfect strangers without a second thought. I wanted to say thank you to each and every one of them.

Another one of her awesome paint jobs.
Another one of her awesome paint jobs. | Source

Working with Sandcastle Church

Martha teamed up with Bobbie Erben from the Sandcastle Christian Church to match furniture up with those that needed it. Locals only need to show proof that you lived in Port Aransas before the hurricane. No red tape.

Martha met Bobbie on her first trip down with the furniture, when she gave her a small desk to work at. Bobbie runs a donation center to help those still being affected by the hurricane.

Here is what Bobbi had to say about Martha:

"I have no idea how she gets so much done. She teaches full time, and then does the furniture. Her work gets better with each load she brings and she has a way of matching what people have in their existing room before the recipient is chosen. She has an amazing Gift."

These people need true help and they have a long ways to go!!!

— Martha Cherico Smith

Other Resources

Port A Donations and Distributions

206 Glendale Street

Port Aransas

361-230-5706


There are several groups on Facebook that offer help to those Affected by the Hurricane.

Here are some other places that help with food, clothing and help with building and clean up.

Presbyterian Church

113 S. Alister St.

open 9-3 361-749-5319


Church of Christ

205 E. Burndrett Ave

361-749-5498


Trinity by the Sea Episcopal Church

433 Trojan at Ave E

361-749-6449

or email what your need is to:

jderkits@trinitybythesea.org

Your Turn

Source

If you know of other private organizations or individuals that are helping with food, shelter, clothing, and manpower please post below.

I found a lot of places asking for donations, but they don't say how the ones that need the assistance can contact them. Please help shed the light on these organizations that have gathered funds in the Port A area.

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    • JoannaBlackburn profile image
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      Joanna Blackburn 2 weeks ago from Guthrie, Oklahoma

      Sandy, thank you for sharing this with us. This might help someone who is looking for that kind of help. There are many who do need this kind of manpower. Do they charge or are they volunteering?

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      Sandy Atkinson 2 weeks ago

      Elsie and Oscar, from San Benito, California have put in over 14,000 man hours helping to organize and work to help people gut and restore their homes and clean up lots. They are part of RV Disaster Corp. They paid their way to Texas, paid monthly rent for a RV spot and work forty or more hours a week with no pay. They have been her in Port Aransas since January 2nd. I am proud to call them my friends.

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