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Seadrift Pounded by Harvey

Archived in the category: General Info
Posted by Joyce Rhyne on 14 Sep 17 - 0 Comments

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This was a long boat stall facility in Seadrift before Harvey.

This was a long boat stall facility in Seadrift before Harvey.

What started as a small tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico turned into a monster of a storm that pounded the Gulf Coast like no storm in Texas since Carla in 1961. It left in its wake a path of destruction that seems as large as the great state of Texas itself, causing the deaths of 66 people as of Sept. 4th and breaking records of wind speed and flooding that will remain in the memory of Texans for years.

Seadrift, Texas the morning of August 25th seemed calm and placid as residents boarded up there windows and finished evacuating. Local First Responders were moving out fire and rescue equipment and Police were ordered to duty by Mayor Deforest in preparation for what was believed to be a Cat2 or Cat3 hurricane about to make landfall somewhere near or just east of Corpus Christi. But as the day progressed, it became evident that the storm was going to make landfall between the City of Rockport and Seadrift, Texas and its winds were increasing to a Cat4 hurricane.

Harvey made landfall during the night of the 25th, bringing heavy rains and wind. Although Seadrift structures weathered the storm well, with most homes requiring roof replacements and a few structures completely destroyed, the harbor suffered a hard hit along with coastal Bayfront erosion. Vegetation was decimated as streets were virtually impassable with downed power lines and trees covering and blocking almost all roads.

Boats could be seen sunk, smashed or sitting in the roadway. Semi-trailers used in the seafood business were thrown about and severely damaged.

Kelly Hawes, 73, who lives on the water’s edge in Seadrift decided to stay, believing it would be a category 2 storm. He said as night fell the winds and rain began to increase. As he watched The Weather Channel, keeping up with the storm, he realized he was stuck there and could no longer drive out as the storm became a Cat4. The winds became stronger and the rain poured heavier.

“I knew me and my kitten ‘Paddles’ were going to have to ride it out. As the night progressed, the winds became so strong that the walls of the house were vibrating and pictures on the wall were moving. And then gusts would violently shake the house as if something big hit it. The power was out and made it so black and dark that you could see nothing. A loud crash of metal outside scared Paddles as she snuggled up closer to me. I thought any minute the walls could go and me and Paddles would have to take cover in the bathtub. I told her, ‘I think we messed up this time, Paddles, but we came thru it OK,” Kelly said.

Harvey continued on its path toward Victoria leaving destruction in its wake as it doubled back and made a line for Houston flooding its residents before heading north. The clean up efforts have just begun for Seadrift and others affected by Harvey. Harvey pounded, but didn’t beat resilient Texans..

Horrible Harvey – Not So Horrible After All by Kelly Gee

Archived in the category: General Info
Posted by Joyce Rhyne on 14 Sep 17 - 0 Comments

The English meaning of ‘Harvey’ is battle worthy, and the Gaelic derivative means blazing iron. Well, if iron sharpens iron, Harvey sure sharpened the connections and commitment of our community and our state. And I would say we Texans and little POC proved ourselves to be battle worthy and oh so POC
Strong. I saw so many people of all ages and all social groups and all economic groups helping each other and working together. Over and over and over again we had what we need when we needed it. The evacuation spared lives and protected many from injury and risk. The wind blew the worst of the surge past us, and we were spared the devastating flooding predicted.

The return of citizens brought encouragement, assistance and direct aid to those who weathered the storm and began the cleanup process. Almost immediately, good Samaritans and kind-hearted helpers showed up when and where they were most needed. Men, women, boys and girls gave time, muscle and help without asking what was in it for them. They did ask who deserved help. They did not hesitate because it was messy, or hard or overwhelming. I did not see price gouging, tricksters and shysters at work. I saw people, aiding without judgment or prejudice. I am sure there were incidents of dishonesty and greed. Such sins are as old as time and will always be seen in times of great need. But apparently those were the exception, not the rule. It makes you believe in the humanity of humans again.

Harvey made my heart grateful. I was grateful for young urban and country boy warriors such as my son and numerous others who rode trucks and jeeps, boats and air boats through dangerous waters to rescue young and old. And many of them called it rewarding to do their part. I’m grateful for homes and farms and small motels and huge hotels who opened doors and rooms and kitchens and laundries to families, to children, to elderly and even beloved pets who fled from the wrath of Harvey. Many of those hospitable hosts went above and beyond business as they allowed refugees to cook, to wash, to use and overuse resources and supplies and asked fair compensation and little else.

I am so grateful for crazy social media which I normally detest as it kept me in real time connection with my sister in a boat escaping Houston flood waters, my friends in POC displaced across the state and even the country, my hometown observation cameras on buoys and at homes that gave me hope for our existence after the storm, and gave me news beyond rumors and gossip. My precious Magnolia Beach friends Mark and Lisa welcomed us to their farmland to shelter and wait together, and to them I am so grateful.

I was grateful and amazed that the VFD guys answered the call and came to our home immediately when we asked Sunday morning, and could use the freezer bounty to feed those working as first responders in POC. The Coasties answered the gate call that same Sunday morning and agreed to use the fish we would have otherwise wasted. I was so thankful to find them ‘still on the watch.’ I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to know that those same Coast Guard men and women, under the leadership of Senior Chief Martin, who updated by video daily throughout this ordeal, have selflessly driven miles and miles to deliver water and supplies to nearby communities in need and helped in our town and countless others nearby. Big cheers to them for an incredible job well done.

I am appreciative of those who pitched in and did what they could where they could, and I am most grateful that the serving and supplying continues.
After returning and finding homes standing with minimal damage and friends returning with happy hearts the work began. Groups from Sequin, Fort Worth, Belton, Houston, Joshua, Oklahoma City, Katy and countless other places have driven into our community in trucks and vans, food trucks and trailers, family cars and business vehicles bringing every kind of supply you could possible think of including pet food; people food; clothes and underclothes and sleeping clothes and school clothes and shoes and jackets and work clothes and, oh my, such clothes; mops and brooms and rakes and towels and cleaning supplies and bleach and soap and hand sanitizer and senior care supplies and personal hygiene items for young and old and in-between; diapers and wipes and formula and baby food; pain meds and tummy meds and first aid too; cooked meals and casseroles and water, water, water, water; and manpower and
building supplies and chainsaws and tarps; and willing hearts with helping hands, strong backs and cool heads and love to spare, it all rolled into our town.
Senior citizens from a small church in Spring brought a generous load, country families arrived with pet food and encouragement after Sunday morning worship, and little children with parents in tow came with boxes of donations because they wanted to help. Just when we would run low, another group would come and another donation would arrive.

I was blessed, so grateful and humbled by the outpouring of love and generosity I witnessed. And you know, I believe our small community is a microcosm of the state, and I like to hope, the country. Many Americans are returning to simpler roots of faith and family, home and community, brotherhood and friendship.
I wish I knew the many names and addresses and locations so I could thank them. I guess I will pray that they are blessed in return a hundred-fold and I will do my best to pay it forward, keep it going and pass it on. If it is a new old trend, a developing fashionable movement to care about each other, I like it! Let’s make it a craze, a fad, a thing. Let’s make it part of POC Strong!

Oklahomans with no real connection to POC came bearing gifts and assistance for residents in need. Memorial Road Church of Christ from Edmond, Oklahoma rolled into town with supplies and materials for POC Residents. Building materials, chainsaws, diapers, formula, jars of peanut butter and loaves of fresh bread as well as other immediate need items were dontated by the Disaster Relief Ministry. Their caring and generosity made repairs and shelter possible. -Kelly Gee

Oklahomans with no real connection to POC came bearing gifts and assistance for residents in need. Memorial Road Church of Christ from Edmond, Oklahoma rolled into town with supplies and materials for POC Residents. Building materials, chainsaws, diapers, formula, jars of peanut butter and loaves of fresh bread as well as other immediate need items were dontated by the Disaster Relief Ministry. Their caring and generosity made repairs and shelter possible.
-Kelly Gee

POC resident Gary Prince (L to R) was blessed by the group. Joe Crawford, Edmond, Oklahoma, is the senior pastor in charge of the Disaster Relif Ministry. David, Walker, POC Resident, was the local coordinator for their efforts. Russ Lobaugh, a lawyer by trade, came with the Oklahoma group and worked so hard to see supplies delivered where they would most help. Blair Horst, one of the business managers for Memorial Road Church of Christ completed the team with his giving spirit. -Kelly Gee

POC resident Gary Prince (L to R) was blessed by the group. Joe Crawford, Edmond, Oklahoma, is the senior pastor in charge of the Disaster Relif Ministry. David, Walker, POC Resident, was the local coordinator for their efforts. Russ Lobaugh, a lawyer by trade, came with the Oklahoma group and worked so hard to see supplies delivered where they would most help. Blair Horst, one of the business managers for Memorial Road Church of Christ completed the team with his giving spirit. -Kelly Gee

Susie Jaycox, POC resident, received temporary living quarters from the Oklahoma team. This nice tent will keep her high and dry until housing repairs can be completed. -Kelly Gee

Susie Jaycox, POC resident, received temporary living quarters from the Oklahoma team. This nice tent will keep her high and dry until housing repairs can be completed. -Kelly Gee

Complimentary dinners were served at Dock’s Bar and Grill. Supplies were gathered and later delivered around the area.

Complimentary dinners were served at Dock’s Bar and Grill.
Supplies were gathered and later delivered around the area.

Free Lunches served by Kathy Pullen Photos by Susan Braudaway

Free Lunches served by Kathy Pullen
Photos by Susan Braudaway

Bubba’s Smoked Meats gave Free Food and supplies

Bubba’s Smoked Meats gave Free Food and supplies

There was Free Water at the POC Post Office After Hurricane Photos by Susan Braudaway

There was Free Water at the POC Post Office
After Hurricane Photos by Susan Braudaway

POC kids of all ages came together to clean up the fallen tree limbs, bush and debris caused by Hurricane Harvey at the Port O’Connor Cemetery. -Photo by Sarah Washburn

POC kids of all ages came together to clean up the fallen tree limbs, bush and debris caused by Hurricane Harvey at the Port O’Connor Cemetery. -Photo by Sarah Washburn

Coast Guardsmen and Guardswomen have logged countless hours and miles delivering supplies and help to communities in need. -Kelly Gee

Coast Guardsmen and Guardswomen have logged countless hours and miles delivering supplies and help to communities in need.
-Kelly Gee

Island Life… by Clint Bennetsen

Archived in the category: Featured Writers, General Info, Island Life
Posted by Joyce Rhyne on 14 Sep 17 - 1 Comment

Experiencing Hurricane Harvey

Greetings from the island everyone. I hope all of you are doing well and looking forward to the beginning of Fall next week, I know that I sure am.

It’s very rare, if ever, that I have devoted an entire Island Life article on just one subject or happening. But because of Hurricane Harvey, and the physical and emotional strain it brought to myself and very close friends and the community, and the stories that it generated, this will be one of those times.

I am a devoted Weather Channel watcher, most especially June-October, the prime Atlantic tropical storm season. So I was well aware of a tropical depression that was meandering through the Caribean and approaching the Yucatán, with expectations to emerge into the southern Gulf of Mexico and become Tropical Storm Harvey. I was watchful, but not overly concerned about it, as it was originally forecast to remain a high end TS and meander into northern Mexico. But as is often the case, the forecast track shifted northward, now bringing Harvey into south or central Texas, directly towards us, but still remaining a TS or possibly Cat 1 hurricane, not a huge issue.

On Monday, Aug. 21, I began making preparations for a minimal storm, and spoke to my best friend, Susan, to see what she and her husband, Britton, planned to do. Susan is also a die hard Weather Channel tropics watcher, so I knew she was up to speed on the storm. They had planned to stay in POC in their RV, and invited me to stay next door in our friend, Leo’s, vacant RV, so we could help each other if needed. That was the plan. We ran into Port Lavaca for needed grocery and miscellaneous supplies to ride out the minor storm.

Everything was fine and remained status quo, until Thursday morning, Aug. 24, when Harvey was now predicted to become a major Category 3, or higher, hurricane, and the forecast track had a bulls-eye at or very near Port O’Connor, TX. This is not good.

I called to talk to Susan about the newest information, and I could immediately recognize by the tone and emotional fear in her voice, that she already knew how dire the situation had become. I completed my preparations on the island, moving vehicles to high ground, boarding up windows and doors, and moving everything as high up as possible, as a 9-12 feet storm surge was now predicted. All expectations were that this was gonna be a very bad outcome for my home on this barrier island. I then loaded up Corky and headed to POC to help Susan and Britton, and to devise a new plan.

I pulled my boat out of the water and parked it at a friend’s house in POC, filled my truck up with gasoline and grabbed a few items at Speedy Stop. I arrived at Susan’s house and she was a nervous wreck, having never been displaced or threatened by a major hurricane. Of course in thinking back, I had not either, not a major hurricane. The decision was made to pull their RV out of POC, and we would all find a safe place to stay together. This was a blessing for me, as I honestly did not know where I was gonna go.

While at the RV park, we helped their elderly neighbors, Earl and Carla, get prepared to leave as well. Everyone in the RV park was helping their neighbors get prepared and ready to leave. The camaraderie was a great sight to see. And then, like a blessing from above, our great friends, Cricket and Jim, arrived in POC to get their boat and they invited us to convoy back to Seguin with them and stay at their home for as long as needed. Susan had her two dogs, Becca and Abby, and two cats, and I had Corky, and Cricket had accommodations for all the animals, plus RV hookups. God was watching over us.

All of us helped Britton get the RV pulled out of the spot, and while he pulled the camper, I pulled his boat, Susan was in her car with four animals, and we convoyed with Cricket and Jim to Seguin, arriving just after midnight Thursday. It had been a very long day. Susan would later tell me that her thoughts during the road trip, were that she was following her house and I had left mine behind. During that drive, some of which was in bumper to bumper traffic, I had time to think about the possibility of losing everything I had worked so hard for the past nearly 18 years.

Even though we were in a safe and comfortable place the next seven days, the following several days were very emotionally draining. We knew that Hurricane Harvey had become a Category 4 and was gonna make landfall just south of POC, meaning the town and my island home were on the worst side of it. There were times I would look over and see tears rolling down Susan’s face as we watched the weather updates. . . and I admittedly was doing the same, not knowing if we would have a town or home upon returning. Feelings of sickness to the stomach and panic attacks were common for us those first few days.

Susan is the primary photographer and information liaison for the POC Chamber of Commerce Facebook page, and during those first few days prior to and after landfall, she remained vigilant in posting shared photos and all information about the hurricane on Facebook, so that everyone could remain informed and have up to date knowledge of what was happening. Many people were also messaging the Chamber requesting information about damage, public utilities, and offering assistance and delivery of supplies to the community. Susan has continued to provide POC Chamber info about the hurricane and businesses affected, up until the current time.
On Sunday afternoon, Aug. 27, I received a phone call from fellow islanders, Chuck and Cody, who had braved the rough seas and went to the island. Chuck informed me that other than minor damage, my island home was still standing and all appeared well, even the 23 chickens and guineas I had to leave behind were fine. I thanked God and breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Britton, Susan and I made a day trip back to POC on that Tuesday to assess damage and do cleanup work at their RV spot, and we found that electricity and water had not yet been restored. While in town, we learned that Bubba’s Smoked Meats and Kathy Pullin were serving meals to anyone that needed food to eat, and many donated supplies were filtering into town. During this time of crisis, Docks Bar & Grill, POC Liquor and Fishermans Chapel were among those instrumental in providing assistance, meals and support for the community, as well as being drop-off locations for incoming donated supplies. To these businesses and people we are very appreciative.

While in town, we also observed that POC suffered damage, but nothing major, and for the most part had been graciously spared the brunt of Hurricane Harvey, unlike our neighboring towns of Seadrift and Port Lavaca.

We returned back to POC the following day and went to the island, where we discovered minimal damage to my property, mainly fence and missing roof shingles. Susan and Britton helped me clean up and get things back situated. I was so very blessed. I have no explanation how the eye of a Category 4 hurricane makes landfall within 50 miles of my barrier island, on the worst side, and I had only minimal damage. Only the hand of God could have been the guiding factor.

With electricity and water having been restored, we returned to POC the following day, Thursday, to stay for good. What a wonderful feeling it was for all of us to be home again. After helping Susan and Britton get their RV back in place and set up, I went back to my island home, seven days after leaving, and began repairs.
I will never forget my emotional experiences with Hurricane Harvey, and how blessed all the islanders were. I want to thank Susan Braudaway for her much appreciated help in writing this article, and the support that she and Britton provided during this prolonged ordeal. POC Strong!!

That’s it from the island for now, everyone take care and have a great day.

No More Sunday Beach

Archived in the category: Announcements, General Info
Posted by Joyce Rhyne on 14 Sep 17 - 0 Comments

sundaybeach
The popular sandy beach on Matagorda Island was washed away by Hurricane Harvey. It will probably return with time, but for now it will be known as “Sunday Beach Pass”. -Photo by Larry Likover, M.D.

Folks this is likely my last update as there are too many things going on, including my own stuff..
Now as Paul Harvey is famous for saying: Now the rest of the story.. Well in my case here is some more information with my second “after Harvey” update…

Now that you know some of the skeleton details, we are now in a serious clean-up and restoration phase. As of yesterday AEP has restored power to basically all the City. Are there places within the City that still may be without power? Yes, there very may will be but we’ve tried to canvass the entire city to let AEP know who they may be that is still without power. We can only do so much. Some of you and others like you may also be on VEC. As far as we know VEC power has been restored as well.

As for cleanup I will start describing a little that started on Saturday the 26th. During the day as wind and rain began to calm down the City Crew (in this case Robert Bryant and Terry Jones) and City Police, along with a few members of the County Precinct 4 Commissioner Kenny Finster crew and Kenny Finster, were out surveying the areas. Of course Kenny has a very large area of responsibility but he took the time to also pay attention to the City of Seadrift. By Saturday evening and into the night both groups began clearing the main roads to allow any emergency/relief vehicles to be able to navigate their way to/from the City Hall and Fire Station area. Numerous City Emergency Vehicles as well as County Emergency Vehicles had been evacuated during the day Friday to protect them from winds and possibly high waters. I do not know who all drove the vehicles out of town and some even stayed with the vehicles. Trust me they were not near, most in Victoria near their Fire Stations and Emergency Centers. My thanks to those that ensured the City and Precinct 4 would have fire-fighting capability as soon after as possible.

The clean-up is still progressing and probably still be happening months later. Unfortunately this is not as fast as we would like because of the huge volume of trees, limbs and etc. Just the volume of trees and tree parts is mind-boggling. Here we are 12 days after landfall and we have only been able to pick-up and clear some of the vast amount of piles of trees and tree parts that have been scraped up from roadways and yards and this doesn’t count the other debris from structures and what the 8 to 10 foot storm surge washed up. Please be advised the City will do its best to perform the tree, limbs, brush removal when we can get around to them. When it comes to debris from construction, repairs, and etc. the normal rules apply in that the property owner will be required to provide disposal as usual. For example, a homeowner just bulldozed his structure and simply pushed all of it to the side of the street expecting the City to pick it up. Demolition is the responsibility of the owner. I hate to sound callous, but the City can only afford to do so much and the capability of handling that type of debris is very limited. If the debris has metal in it, the metal should be separated and set beside the road. Eventually I am sure some recyclers will be able to pick it up. If trash/debris will fit in totes and cans and not make them too heavy it should eventually be picked up by normal garbage pickup. Normal weekly waste services are now in operation on the normal days of Thursday & Friday.

I previously mentioned the fuel situation with the first “emergency” deliveries occurring Monday. However I would be remiss in saying that were it not for the fuel supplies that Precinct 4 Commissioner Finster released for the City on Sunday the generators at City Hall, Water Plant and Waste-water Plant would have run out. When the supplies the City ordered came in we were able to reciprocate to Precinct 4… This is cooperation at its best, indeed. There was no red tape here. If we needed something Precinct 4 provided it, if they needed something the City provided if we had it.

A note about the water and MRE’s. After the first water, ice and the reduced amount of MRE’s arrived and was taken within an hour and half, Kenny and myself realized it wasn’t just City residents coming in to get water, ice and MRE’s it was all those residents stretched between Seadrift and Port O’Connor and POC itself that needed things also. Yes when POC realized we had some water and ice and MRE’s they drove as best as they could to Seadrift. They weren’t refused. Our next order for fuel, water, ice and MRE’s took that into consideration. We did not want anyone to go thirsty or hungry. We got some push back from the State because they wanted to know how many we were helping just in the City. However with a little persuasion the District Emergency Operations in Victoria was convinced to submit the larger orders, but then we didn’t receive everything – this is where the “red-tape” issues reared their ugly heads. I digress a little here, but we received only a fraction of what was originally ordered during the Hurricane and afterwards through this past Wednesday and have never received any of the many other things that was requested.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Finster tried to attend the daily SITREP meetings at City Hall, but due to his vast duties in the rest of Precinct 4 was unable to attend all.

If you are wondering the city’s two wind turbines appeared to weather the hurricane well with no visible damage. However they will remain off until a thorough inspection can be performed to determine their condition before returning to service.

Finally I want to again thank all those involved in either staying, showing up and volunteering over the last 12 days. Special thanks go to Ernie Paiz our contact at DDC17 in Victoria – the local Disaster District in Victoria of the State TDEM who went out of his way and bypassed some normal channels to get the initial materials ordered and delivered. Thank you Kenny Finster Precinct 4 Commissioner! Thank you All the Fire Department Volunteers! Thank you City Crews and City Staff in keeping City Hall open long hours and through this past weekend. Thank you Police Chief Bermea and Officers and Reserve Officers for patrolling, checking on people and providing assistance. Thank you to all those volunteers and agencies that have come to Seadrift bringing untold numbers of everything, from water, food, clothing, baby things, personal hygiene items and thank you to those that have come later, though we may have turned you away and sent you elsewhere such as the Churches and other groups, individuals and organizations to help with the distributions. The Salvation Army has been here since around Monday and have been feeding continuously since then at 12:30pm and 5:30pm. At the peak during one meal approximately 750 people were served lunch on Sunday.

If I’ve missed other’s I am sincerely sorry… So much has been going on.. The days have and are running together with long hours and many, many faces and names hard to remember.

I know there is much more to tell – maybe a book sometime? Haha..

I would say “until next time” but I hope there is NOT a next time!

My heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all!

Elmer DeForest, Mayor, City of Seadrift

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