Welcome back. With hundreds of ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66 employees in the Houston area and many more located along the Gulf of Mexico down to the big shipping center of Port Aransas, the impact of Hurricane Harvey has had is in many ways still reaching all the way to Bartlesville. This week with all the hurricanes we’ve had this year, I’m taking you back in time to August 25, 2017 when Hurricane Harvey first hit San Jose Island before making a bee line for the popular fishing town of Rockport, Texas. The slow-moving storm dumped more than 40 inches of rain on the town over a four-day period and battered it with 130 mph winds, breaking records. Thousands of homes were flooded and there were 17,000 recorded water rescues. Just to show you how bad it was, prior to Harvey there were 9,223 tax paying properties in Rockport and after the storm only 1,002 remained.
The loss to the county was estimated at 812 million in housing and 134 million in business destruction. The town itself received close to 500 million dollars in property damages and suffered at least 100 million dollars in lost tourism revenue. Nursing homes, post offices, government buildings, churches and marinas were just some of the facilities that were either totally destroyed or left incapacitated for years. With all of this damage of course there were deaths, 107 in all and the first one occurred just a few blocks away from my current location.
Five years later this town is still struggling to recover as many motels and houses are still boarded up. Piers where hundreds of tourists come every year to fish are still not rebuilt and on San Jose Island several massive shipping barges that washed up there during the hurricane are sitting on dry ground hundreds of feet inland rusting away. There is also a labor shortage because most of the affordable housing was wiped out and has yet to be rebuilt.
One place I found that has rebuilt is the Schoenstatt (beautiful place) convent and retreat center which includes an important shrine. Most of the buildings on the property were heavily damaged by Harvey but today they have all been repaired or replaced, including construction of a new retreat center. If you are like me and have never heard of Schoenstatt, here’s a bit of history about the order.
The shrine is a replica of the original shrine in Germany, where the founder, Father Joseph Kentenich, together with a group of seminarians dedicated their lives to Mary, Mother Thrice Admirable in the covenant of love Oct. 18, 1914. Their mission was for the renewal of the world in Christ through Mary. This movement also established an order of nuns known as the Sisters of Mary. Today there are over 1800 Sisters of Mary throughout the world serving as advocates for women and children and devoting themselves to a life of piety. The shrines that they build at their convents are refuges of spiritual help and guidance, welcoming visitors of all faiths.
Yes friends, there were a lot of people here and in Bartlesville who were impacted by this catastrophic storm Harvey which was one for the record books, proving that this part of the world can be both beautiful and dangerous.
Till next time I’ll see ya down the road…………….