I’m not even bothered by the fact we woke up super early today, because this is the first thing we saw:
We packed up and shipped out, bound for Port Aransas. The closer we got, the more prevalent the damage was. Even though it’s been almost 7 months since Harvey, recovery is still quite in full swing.
There were gaping holes in buildings, homes, and stores, roofs torn off, some awaiting repair, and overturned items scattered and out of place. Pitted against an overcast sky, the wreckage looked utterly dismal.
We arrived at Trinity by the Sea Church in Port Aransas early [woo!] and took in the area. The church was so beautiful– exactly how I would imagine a sea-side church to look. The sanctuary took my breath away, with vibrant stained glass windows, needlepoint kneeled to match, and my favorite– a hand crafted, hanging shell-mobile, made by Amy, the woman who welcomed us to the church. The shells hung in the center of the ceiling, reflecting the lights overhead, each inscribed with the name of a parishioner.
Amy took us around, and told us about the effects of the hurricane in the area. She told us also that she used to work at a nursing home in Rockport, but the building was destroyed so she lost her job. “I decided I had to come volunteer. They asked me to come back to Rockport but I just can’t– I keep telling them ‘one more year!’ I’ve been here ever since.”
She pointed out the features of the church, and explained that, miraculously, the church sustained little damage in the storm.
She then directed us to the community center, where we got our job assignments, moar coffee [!!!] and pets/love/scratches from a dog named Joe. We headed over to our assigned site, where we had to move debris to the curb, and remove brush and fencing. It took a row of women to pull a stubborn metal fence free but we did it [how appropriate for international women’s day💪🏼].
We took a break go lunch and were handed another piece of scripture by our priest:
“May the God of hope fill you with all the joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with the hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
It’s crazy because even among the desolation and destruction there are signs of hope everywhere. This church. These people. Their stories.
Everyone we have talked to has been so positive, so vibrant, so resilient. In the parish hall of Trinity By the Sea, there were papers displaying the scope of the affected areas, as well as an interesting graphic I’ve never seen before:
We got back to our worksite and cut down broken trees, tore out rotted [stubborn as heck] fence posts [we had some fun kicking the heck out of them] and cleared away more debris, later with the help of some power tools. 😎 A neighboring guy saw us ladies working and graciously bestowed SNACKS upon us!
When we were digging up debris, we even found a who-knows-how old flamingo Tervis cup, sturdy and still in tact. We felt it warranted a Tweet to @Tervis by one of our teammates:
During our snack break, the owners of the home that our team was working on [the other half of us were back at Trinity cleaning up outside there] were telling us about how a giant trampoline from neighbors streets away ended up on their roof during the storm. And then they talked about how only one side of their house got the major brunt of them storm, with most of the other side of the house went mostly untouched. Crazy stuff.
Some before and after photos:
On our way home, we rode the FERRY from Port A to the highway towards Corpus. I’ve only been on one ferry in my life, but let me say Texas does it big. We were allowed to get out as it was moving so we could look for dolphins!
We then went back to the church to shower and change because our priest’s friends were so graciously cooking for us at their place, a wonderful dinner of Texas STEAK and salmon and baked potatoes and salad… it was so good we got the meat sweats. (;
We all had no trouble getting to sleep. Our last day of work is tomorrow but we’re all pumped and ready to go, feeling blessed to have had such a full week of wonderful work under our belts.