As Houston Recovers from Harvey, Don’t Forget About Rockport

The whole world is hearing about Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, but Rockport, Texas, the city where the eye of the storm actually struck shore, tends to be referred to as a footnote. And that has only intensified after Irma’s damaging sweep across Florida.

But Rockport’s need is no less. A small city of about 10,000 people, Rockport lost its high school, several hotels, and whole neighborhoods, not to mention all of the local marinas. Recovery is expected to take years, and the town will never be the same.

Bill Thomas isn’t a local. He describes himself as a “frequent visitor.” But he saw a need in Rockport, and traveled there immediately after the storm.

Thomas is in distribution, and he put that career-gained knowledge to work immediately. A local business owner lent him an empty warehouse that was still standing, and he immediately launched a donation center.

Many of the donations coming into Rockport from across the country had no place to go, and it broke his heart to see pallets of baby food and paper goods that had to be thrown out from being left out in the elements. His warehouse gave everybody a place to bring those donations, a place he called Aransas County Harvey Donaton Center.

In less than a week, community members and strangers alike had donated nearly $10,000 to cover the center’s costs. A local business donated nearly 200 mattresses and pillows. Bayer Motor Company ran a fundraising drive among its employees.

“That’s what Texas is about,” said Bayer’s CEO Lucy Larose. “You just come together and you put aside your differences and you put aside what might be bothering you and you feel in your heart just that need to help out.”

Everything in Thomas’s Donation center is being given away free to anyone who needs it, and nearly everyone who has come for supplies has stopped a while to volunteer themselves.