When I’m not on the road visiting co-ops on behalf of Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives or in our Arlington, Virginia office, I spend my weekends in a quaint coastal community in Texas. The town is so small and insignificant that I’ve always just told members I’m near Corpus Christi.
But that all changed on Friday, August 25. Now the entire nation knows about Rockport.
My husband, Darryl, information technology manager at Pedernales Electric Cooperative, and I knew any hurricane named Harvey would be epic, so we heeded the mandatory evacuation notice, leaving behind so much because at the end of the day it is just stuff.
We had a safe place to weather the storm, and that made us more fortunate than most. We put millennials to shame with our constant texting, streaming, surfing, posting and Googling to get news about our neighborhood, but all that 24/7 coverage didn’t tell us what we needed to know.
So at 4 a.m. on Sunday we jumped in the pickup for an old-fashioned day trip and headed to a tourist town that had no electricity, no amenities and (gasp) no cell service.
I know it sounds bleak, but we knew our town would be full of one thing—hope. Hope that your friend who decided to spend the night in their house because it was more than 20 feet above sea level was just fine. Hope that Harvey’s wrath had spared your home from damage. Hope that if your home was damaged, the one thing you couldn’t live without had somehow been saved. And hope that it wouldn’t take Rockport too long to get back to “normal.”
Following the co-op mantra of “Safety First,” we slowly drove through town, feeling lucky because we would eventually be able to rebuild. Our condominium has structural damage including chunks of wood embedded in the roof. We know our possessions are either ruined or soon will be. Our “barndominium”—it looks like a barn, but has room for both storage and living quarters—now has a skylight that wasn’t there a few days ago. You can see the devastation our town has suffered from the media coverage. But I know it won’t look like this for long.
As we headed back home we saw the first convoy of bucket trucks heading into town to remove the broken poles and sagging strands of wire from the side streets and literally energize the community.
And I was so proud, because I knew that my co-op friends across the country had helped make this possible. Believe me when I say that what co-ops do during natural disasters is truly powerful, and from the bottom of my heart I thank all of the members that have released their contract crews and are providing mutual aid to the Texas Coastal Bend.
That’s not the only reason we are so thankful for our co-op family. The team at Touchstone Energy is a tightknit group, and they were sending texts and emails throughout the weather event. I’ve heard from friends and colleagues as far away as Alaska, checking to make sure we’re OK and offering any support we need. Cooperation amongst cooperatives is a principle that must never be underestimated, especially during disasters.
As I write this, Harvey is still causing havoc and is expected to make his presence known for several more days. They are calling this an unprecedented weather event, but the residents of this community are meeting this challenge with an unprecedented amount of grit and grace.
And I have no doubt that we will be rebuilding Rockport soon—thanks to you.
Anne Harvey is Touchstone Energy Cooperatives’ director of member relations and communications.