I imagine everyone is overwhelmed with video and pictures of Harvey’s devastation. I have not had an opportunity to share our experience in Rockport until now. I am staying in Houston for a few days, where there is cell service, Wi-Fi, electricity and, most importantly, air conditioning! It’s long but I have not been able to connect for over a week and I am feeling the need to share.
When Linda and I went to market in North Carolina we would visit the various retail vendors and they would always ask, “Where is Rockport, Texas?” I don't think we will have to explain where Rockport, Texas is anymore. As we all know, Harvey had his eye on our quaint little town and decided to start there in an effort to become one of the costliest natural disasters in America’s history.
As we watched Harvey’s approach to the Texas coast, no one believed it would land in Rockport. These storms always move around, “it’s not going to hit us." When the storm did not change its path and was projected to be a Category 4 storm, fear crept in. The City of Rockport declared a mandatory evacuation. They were sending text and voice mail messages to get out. The phone continued to buzz that horrible weather alert signal that scared the crap out of me and I screamed for it to stop! I tried to keep the panic feeling at bay. We helped neighbors secure things, tied down the boat, shoved all the outdoor furniture into the house, grabbed important photos and papers and did all the things they tell you to do, but hope you never have to. With knots in our stomach, we drove through town trying to soak everything in, getting a visual image as it looked that day. We left Rockport and prayed for our little town and those who remained.
As we are leaving I took these 2 pictures:
This is Bay Inspired Living’s framing going up. We never even got a chance to send this picture out. We were so excited to see the framing. That was a good day.
Linda went to the hill country and I, yes, crazy me, chose Houston. So we were glued to the TV watching from afar hoping and praying at the last minute it would change direction, but that wouldn’t be. I watched storm chasers’ live feed all through the night, desperate to know how we were doing against this massive storm. So much anxiety, I couldn’t sleep. After the storm all we could do was wait. Wait until someone could get there and tell you if you still had a home. If your friends have a home. Heck, is there even a town left? We waited, hoped and prayed that no one died. When the sun rose and the news media ventured into Rockport it was unrecognizable. I could not tell what each pile of rubble once was. I combed the internet for anything, pictures or video desperate to see if our home survived. I felt sick to my stomach. I know it’s just a house, but it’s your home and you put your heart and soul into that house. As the pictures came in from neighbors both Linda and I were so excited. Our homes were still standing! I never thought I would be so excited just to hear it was still there, and not a pile of wood. Your heart goes out to those who lost everything. Our homes can be fixed (Texas term used for repaired). When Harvey headed back out into the Gulf, Linda headed down to Rockport, I was stranded in Houston. Now we are talking big time anxiety. Linda was able to call me and tell me our homes were, in fact, both still standing and didn’t look too bad! We were one of the few fortunate ones. I was desperate to get out of Houston, to see our home and town for myself. Finally, the opportunity came that I could leave the area. On the trip down, I tried to stay upbeat, prayed for strength to handle the situation, and told myself I would not cry. No matter how much news coverage I watched, I was not prepared for what I was about to see, it was heart wrenching. Piles and piles of debris. Homes wiped out as well as the mom and pop restaurants, bait shops, auto repair shops, boat storage buildings and the list goes on. No home or business was left untouched. Rockport has very few chain restaurants and mega businesses. The heart and soul of this town is, and will always be its people. As I drove through my neighborhood it looked more like a tornado had passed through, not a hurricane. When I entered my home it had more damage than was visible from the outside. The roof leaked, the doors and windows had blown open (even with the storm shutters closed) and water had come in. Sheetrock had fallen in and our boat overturned in the canal.
It’s still all okay, I can do this, I tell myself. I took a drive through town. It was unbelievable the amount of destruction.
The Boiling Pot, local eatery. Yes, Brian Robison, this is, or was the Boiling Pot.
This was a four story dry stack, boat storage
A local shop that made boat canvas covers.
Honestly, looking back at this picture, I do not remember what this once was.
The flag shop. It’s gone, but they managed to put out some flags for inspiration.
Texas’ First Responders! Kudos to HEB. First to set up help. I will never shop for groceries anywhere else!
Although the physical damage throughout town was visible, the emotional toll was not. Not only have some of our friends and neighbors lost their homes but their businesses. Most are not insured. They struggled to make it as it was and paying for insurance was not an option. Those small businesses employ local residence who now, not only don’t have a home they do not have a job. It was brutal seeing this.
As I drove through Rockport, I saw the community coming together and helping each other. With all the high spirits around, I could not help but remain optimistic.
“Nice Try Harvey!!! We’ll Be Back!!! Sea Ya in Nov.” was spray painted on the bottom of this boat.
I don’t even want to mention our own losses, because they seem so trivial, but this is our story. Fortunately for us, our business was just getting off the ground so the financial loss is minimal.
The framing came down, as you would expect. Palm trees snapped in half.
Fences down, arbor destroyed.
Boat barn Bay Inspired Living used for storage.
I remained hopeful, although overwhelmed, through the clean out of our home. But something inside of me gave way when I saw the business property and boat barn disaster. I went into the heap of rubble that was once our storage hoping to find something that had survived. I kept repeating to myself this is just “stuff” it can be replaced. But as I looked around and saw the “stuff” crushed and broken, I realized that it all represented much more to me. It was a new beginning, rising from two difficult years. I momentarily felt a sense of loss. Harvey had shattered my dreams. How could I get that excitement back with so much destruction around? I hate to admit it but I sat down in the middle of the mangled tin and broken lumber and cried. I called Linda, had a little pity party and we talked. I then decided, that was enough and pulled myself together and prayed for strength. So once again, with His blessings we will continue on.
Another sign of things moving forward. I’m in the front yard cleaning up in 200 degree weather, looking like Harvey got a hold of me and this nice looking, freshly showered man shows up with a package. Any other time I would have loved meeting a handsome man with a gift. But not now! You go Federal Express. They were delivering packages 3 days after the storm. It was kind of comical seeing him walk up to these wrecked homes handing out packages. I guess they figured we might need the items. The package I received was fabric samples from a furniture line we will be carrying. A felt a little bubble of excitement once again. Yes fabric samples made my day. I believe in my heart that the things Linda and I do will bring happiness to others too.
So after doing what we could for our neighbors, Linda and I decided to re-visit the storage barn with a renewed sense of strength, feeling like survivors.
Here we are digging through the collapsed storage barn.
Tossed around among the crushed tin were some fragile little Christmas ornaments. Inspiration!
We’ve decided to incorporate an “I survived Harvey” section of furniture in our store. We will also have things made from newly discovered "Harvey" Lap and "Harvey" Wood. Re-Re-Purposed items. We are getting our mojo back. As Linda said to me, “we are making lemonade."
We are continuing to help neighbors and the community get their lives back together and the schools open. It’s a daunting task with the heat, no water and no electricity. Much help is still needed.
I have a few people I want to give thanks to and mention.
Jayme and Brian Robison who called me and wanted to know what they could do for the Rockport Community. Jayme and Brian are working on several fundraisers through their charity. www.brianrobison96.com
My family. My sister Sandy and her husband Mark Yarborough who came to Rockport bringing much needed items. They helped us move our elderly neighbors from their totally destroyed home. Mark hooked up a generator that my sister Shelia and her husband Bill Rowe sent to me. Thanks to my other sister, Becky Miller who helped pull everything together for us from Tomball. My family is awesome.
Our friends, Nelda and Ruben Garcia of Providence Care Pharmacy, who personally delivered much needed medication to me on the side of the road of an overpass on Highway 35 (we had a tire blow out and were waiting for a wrecker). Seriously, it was dangerous, they are crazy! What great friends.
Thanks to everyone who sent emails, texts, Facebook messages and, most of all, prayers in concern and support for all of us in Texas. You are the greatest.
We are strong, we are warriors. We will endure and come through this together. May God Bless Y’all and God Bless Texas.