What were you doing 728 days ago?
I was prepping for a strong tropical storm, or at worse, a minimal hurricane.
What were you doing 729 days ago?
I was coming to the realization my life was about to change after learning Hurricane Harvey had rapidly intensified overnight and there was no way we were going to dodge his bullet.
My wife and I drove to New Braunfels 729 days ago. I was exhausted and slept about 12 hours upon arrival because I didn’t sleep much the previous two days.
When I woke up, at about 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25, 2017, I walked into my sister and brother-in-law’s family room and watched the news on television.
Truth be told, I didn’t want to watch video of our community being torn apart.
The day before we left town I experienced a very awkward feeling, one I had never felt before. I didn’t have time to secure our home, and barely enough time to attach the nylon hurricane tarp across the front entrance to our office.
I had no idea what we would return to, much less what the future would hold.
When I returned the next day I quickly realized taking everything one day at a time, and simply doing the best I could, in whatever I was doing, was the only way I would survive, both physically and mentally.
Each of us has our unique Harvey stories, and just like each hurricane, every one is different, but all of them have similarities.
Fast forward two years.
Much has changed in our community. To the visitor, things are basically back to normal, but for residents, the underlining fabric of our community is different.
I’ve noted in this space, and in conversation, on many occasions, that isn’t bad, or good, it just is.
One huge benefit of Harvey is we, as a community, are the beneficiaries of things we never would have received without Harvey, and for that I am truly grateful. The government has a big role in our long-term recovery, but what I’ve been most impressed with is the actions of our residents, as well as the volunteers we never knew before Harvey, who helped us in our time of need.
Government can help replace buildings, but it can’t help one’s soul.
I’ve described the aftermath of Harvey as throwing 25,000 marbles (each marble being a resident of Aransas County) into the air. Eventually all the marbles will land.
As we have all witnessed, and felt in some manner, roughly 5,000 of those marbles haven’t landed back in Aransas County.
In the past two years I’ve been amazed watching a community come together like I never saw in my 35-plus years in town. I pray we continue working together in that spirit of cooperation as the storm fades in our rearview mirror.
We have a great future, painted with colors not available to us prior to Harvey.
We can create a masterpiece.
We don’t all have to travel the same road, but we do need to seek the same destination.
Until next week, have a good week.
Mike Probst can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• • • • •
(Editor’s note: The following is the column I wrote for the Wednesday E-edition following Hurricane Harvey’s landfall. It is a reminder of my mindset those first days after Harvey. We’ve come a long way since Aug. 25, 2017, and our future is brighter than ever. That is a credit to everyone, in whatever role they might have played, or continue to play, in our community’s recovery.)
Harvey hit us,
but he didn’t
knock us out
Hurricane Harvey, a powerful Cat 4 storm dealt Aransas County a shot below the belt Friday, Aug. 25 … BUT IT DID NOT, AND WILL NOT KNOCK US OUT.
The outpouring of manpower and assets from surrounding communities, across the state and nation is unbelievable.
I got emotional when I drove by the Aransas County Airport two days after landfall and saw bucket trucks from electric companies as far as the eye could see.
The stream of outside help coming into Aransas County has been steady since Saturday.
In the hours leading up to Harvey’s landfall at 10 p.m. Aug. 25, and every moment since that fateful night, our first responders and municipal employees - just regular folks during a normal everyday work week - have given more to our communities than can ever be imagined. Many of them lost everything in this storm, but have continued to work tirelessly with the emotional weight of an elephant chasing them every step of the way.
Neighbors helping neighbors is amazing.
There is no rhyme or reason to the destruction. On one corner there is a wooden structure still intact, while a block away a cinder block building is leveled.
The emotions can get a little out of hand, which is understandable, but now five days after Harvey hit us, those who weathered the storm, as well as those who have returned to check on their property, or to stay, seem to be accepting the new normal. Stay positive.
As businesses become operational, please post that information on The Rockport Pilot’s Facebook page.
One thing you will experience upon your return is that when one problem is solved, several more arise. Stay calm, and work through it.
We all must lean on our individual faith, in whatever power you believe in outside of yourself.
We all have to just take it one step at a time and let the path clear ahead of us.
WE WILL, TOGETHER, OVERCOME THIS MAJOR SETBACK.