It feels like it is just too soon to celebrate the passing of Harvey. Like making a joke about an unfortunate injury where the wound is still fresh, celebrating a year post Harvey, is just too soon. I can still feel the fear and sadness flowing through me as I sat and watched the Weather Channel from Johnson City last August. The different live feeds from storm chasers as they drove around my hometown filming the destruction that was occurring and giving us color commentary of the events unfolding. These storm chasers filmed and spoke about the disaster as if they were tour guides informing us of pertinent information about an historical site. Little did they know, that destroyed strip center belongs to my family, is where my newly remodeled office is or was, and the number of lives that would be financially, emotionally, and physically affected with just this one building. How could they realize that the roof in the middle of the road in Copano belongs to a beloved friend. That those are all of their belongings, everything they owned, destroyed and scattered about, not some attraction to draw in tourists. Just like Harvey came and left, so did all of these storm chasers and news crews. None of them had probably ever heard of or set foot in beautiful Rockport-Fulton, when summer was in full swing and showing off her beauty. They certainly weren't here to help clean up and rebuild after the storm. They were off to the next tragedy, and we were left with the mess.
The 12 months since that fateful night have brought so many emotions and so much exhaustion. I remember being told "it's bad" before being able to come back home, and preparing myself mentally and emotionally for what I would see when I got back. I thought I had prepared myself, but once I was past the Port Bay bridge, the shock began to settle in. I felt like I had entered a war zone, so scared and vulnerable. I recall falling asleep that night and waking up a few minutes later with the feeling that maybe I had just had a nightmare. Perhaps I had dreamed this entire tragedy, but I soon accepted that the nightmare was actually reality.
In the beginning our new reality involved tons of sweat, blood and tears. I felt absolutely overwhelmed when digging through the remains of my office. It was a hug from a dear friend that got me through that first day of cleanup. We made it through the second day because volunteers from San Antonio grilled us hamburgers, best burger I've ever eaten. The next day salvation came in the form of a skid steer. Every day there was some blessing that allowed me to make it through to the next. Soon, the AEP Rockstars restored power.
Just a short year ago our community was stripped down to the bare minimums. No water, no food, no electricity, and no leaves on the trees. But, day by day this sleepy town has shown how she gleams. Before Harvey, I truly took for granted the worth of the people of Rockport-Fulton. As a community we are rebuilding bigger and better with a new found sense of value. This event has definitely made me think about my beliefs. I believe that we are Rockport-Fulton Strong. I believe in our fighting Pirates. I believe that Panjo's serves the best Pizza. I believe that we have the best sunrises and sunsets. I believe that offering someone a bottle of water or a free hot meal can save their life. I believe in friendships. I believe my husband is my hero. I believe our children are warriors. I believe that nothing matters more than relationships. Finally, I believe in Rockport-Fulton.
None of what I am saying is any real news to those that have walked through the destruction of a Hurricane, my story is not unique. I just feel it’s still too soon to joke about all that we have lost or to celebrate a storm. Instead, it’s a time to celebrate what we have gained. Like righting a vessel, Rockport-Fulton is now built on a sense of nostalgia, and a new found sense of what is truly important. So, thanks Harvey.