moved, a tale of devastation and inspiration

There is a little town on the Texas cost that used to be unknown. If you didn't know where you were going, you would never find it. The streets are lined with bait stands, the harbors full of shrimp boats, and the air is salty and thick. Trees grow in odd shapes as the wind off the bays manipulates them.  It's slow paced living, no pretense, just fishing, and fun.

When Hurricane Harvey hit, we expected some damage. What we were unprepared for was the complete leveling of our beloved Rockport. Our family has been going down to the coast long before I was born. My sister and I grew up running down the piers, collecting hermit crabs, and cannonballing into the pool. Sunburns, boat rides, a cold iced coke and freshly grilled oysters are a way of life. In the winter, we do puzzles, multiple in a weekend. My mom cooks comfort food and we watch the rain dance on the water. In the fall, we split our time between watching football and playing outside, grilling and relishing the last swims of the season. Our home down there has been build on endless memories, layer after layer creating a foundation that is thicker than you can imagine. Everyone who enters through the doors can feel it. They get swept up in Rockports charm. Suddenly, grown men are riding shark floats, shoes are left inside, popsicles are eaten by the ocean, and makeup is forgotten. This place, this city, is infectious. 

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Over the course of a weekend, Rockport was rendered flat. To put it simply, the town is gone. Where buildings stood now lie wreckage. Damage is overwhelming at every turn. This home, the home of our heart, is broken. As we watched the news, I sobbed. My body physically ached with every new photo, every new report. This inconspicuous little town was suddenly the center of national news and it hurt so deeply and felt so raw that I couldn't move. Waves of grief washed over our family, for our friends who were evacuated, for the church we attend that was now smashed, for every building that was busted, for every home that was ruined, for the beautiful scenery and even more beautiful people that make up our haven.

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Then, when it seemed like it was hopeless, a ray of light came piercing through the clouds. In another small town in Texas that no one has ever heard of, my parents lead a church. This church doesn't have a long history of mission work which is surprising because their heart is so large. Over the past few years, my parents have lead trips to Corpus Christi where the church has served homeless, aided in rebuilding, and captured a vision for a thriving revival. It's a small church of about five hundred where everyone knows everything about everybody. So they knew our families connection with the Texas coast. And they blew us away.

Donations came pouring in, over two hundred cases of bottled water, tarps, building supplies, generators, RVs, and more. Multiple trailers were filled and back up storage buildings had to be cleaned out to house the outpouring. A radio station in College Station somehow heard that my parents were heading down to Rockport in the midst of flooding to deliver aid and meet with local officials. They sent more trailers to Franklin packed full of supplies that had been donated by the people and students who attend Texas A&M. 

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People in the church began to immediately raise their hands and volunteer to go. And so they went. Just a few days after the hurricane hit, a work crew of twenty people went down to clear roads and work on homes. They stayed thirty miles away in a hotel that had no water, they showered in another town and didn't even stop to think about how they would get food. People have rotated through and workers are still down there even now. 

When smaller towns around Rockport ran out of water, people made the (currently) 8 hour round trip in a day to deliver all the bottled water the church had stored up. Whatever the needs have been, they have met it. 500 people serving a town of 10,000. A little bit like the loaves and fishes, don't you think?

The devastation is far from over. Houston is still underwater and so many towns are in desperate need across the state. But in this case, in two little towns, there is overwhelming hope. There is selfless giving, labor lavished, and story after story of unity. Our friends in Rockport are working hard on their town, they are strong and resilient people. But, I have never been more grateful that they are not alone. That the people of Franklin are rising up, saying,"Yes, we will be the hands and feet of Christ at any cost" 

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I'm moved. Moved to tears, moved to action, moved to prayer, moved to thanks. Let's learn from Franklin's example and offer what we have, trusting that it will be multiplied beyond measure. 

Rockport, we'll be grasping your hand and holding a hammer until you are brought back to life.

 

If you would like to donate to the Rockport disaster relief at Franklin Baptist Church you can do so here: FBC GIVING 

For general disaster relief for the state of Texas, you can donate here: RED CROSS

 

 

Meredith Harper