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Rebuilding Port Aransas After Hurricane Harvey

Harvey left many stories to be told. Some needed help while others needed to be heard. There will be more articles and a book in the future

Decorated poles on a beach.

Decorated poles on a beach.

Port Aransas Continues to Struggle

Port Aransas, as the locals call it, is a resort and fishing community, so most 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 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's 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.

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 willing to let me tell their story. My first response came within minutes.

Martha Cherico Smith suggested I do one, Billy Joe Wilson. My heart wanted to know who the woman was, which 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 painted furniture and brought them to the residents of Port Aransas.

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

Colorful furniture sitting in a driveway.

Colorful furniture sitting in a driveway.

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

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.

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 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 thank you to each one of them.

Brown and tan  dresser inside a house.

Brown and tan dresser inside a house.

Sandcastle Church

Martha teamed up with Bobbie Erben from the Sandcastle Christian Church to match furniture with those who 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 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."

Thanks to the Following For Helping Her Cause

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,

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

— Martha Cherico Smith

Other Resources

These were the resources available at the time of publishing.

* Port A Donations and Distributions, 206 Glendale Street, Port Aransas, Texas

Several groups on Facebook help those affected by the hurricane.

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

*Presbyterian Church, 113 S. Alister St., Port Aransas, Texas

*Church of Christ, 205 E. Burndrett Ave, Port Aransas, Texas

*Trinity by the Sea Episcopal Church, 433 Trojan at Ave E, Port Aransas, Texas

Or email what your need is to:

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

I found many places asking for donations, but they don't say how the ones who 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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