With Hurricane Harvey upgraded to Category 3 on Aug. 24 and bearing down hard on the southeast coast of Texas, Larry and Linda Lee told the family it was time to go back to Hobbs.
Today, they plan to return to Rock-port, Texas, delivering donations and searching their own home for anything salvageable. The 2010 census listed Rock-port, about 37 miles northeast of Corpus Christi, with a population of 8,766.
Current residents of Rockport, Texas, where the hurricane made landfall at Category 4 on Aug. 25, the Lee family plans to return pulling a closed trailer full of donated goods.
With a house for sale in Hobbs, Linda said they were fortunate because they had someplace to go, but they are concerned about the neighbors they left behind.
Initially planning to obtain a trailer to take to Rockport to salvage any of their belongings they could, the family started thinking about not hauling an empty trailer. They have been accepting donations all week from Hobbs friends and family.
“So we thought when we go down there, we’re taking stuff to Rockport instead of going there with an empty trailer,” she said. “We already have a bunch of donations and we have more coming in. We’re going to take it and give it to people that need it in Rock-port.”
The City of Rockport website describes a nighttime curfew from 7 p.m.-7 a.m., as well as a mandatory “boil water” alert, so the Lees won’t arrive until Saturday morning.
“We’re going to drive to Beeville (about 62 miles northwest of Rockport), be sure we have gas there, and get a room Friday night,” Linda said. “Then early Saturday morning, we’re going to go over to Rockport and see what’s there, what can be salvaged, clean out the refrigerators and try to secure what we have left to keep the (looters) from going in there.”
She became emotional describing all the refrigerated and frozen food that must be discarded because of lack of electricity.
A friend still in Rockport has sent the family some photos of their home.
“It’s not totally destroyed, but we don’t know about water damage. We have two sheds we keep stuff in. They weren’t destroyed but shingles and black paper has come off them,” Linda said. “We have big trees down in the front and back yards. We have a six-foot fence on the front and side of our house. Part of it is down.”
She expects Larry to try to get the fence back up, at least in the front.
“But we can only go in there from daylight to dark. There’s no electricity and no water. The water that’s there is so contaminated,” she said.
Neighbors were less fortunate, Linda said, showing a photo of a completely demolished mobile home.
Ironically, those neighbors evacuated to Houston, she said, where days of rainfall topping 50 inches and subsequent flooding caused even more damage than hurricane force winds. Linda noted her neighbors are unable to get out of Houston, now, but would have no home to come to if they could.
Evacuating a town of under 9,000 proved a challenge in itself, taking an hour to buy fuel at the local Wal-Mart.
“Then, when we left there and got on the road, it took us five hours to go 100 miles. It was traffic moving like a turtle,” she said.
Her daughter Jeannie agreed, “Maximum speed was about 18 miles an hour, at the most, when we’d get moving. Other than that, it was stand still.”
In the family’s Ford Expedition were five people and three dogs along with all the belongings they could carry on short notice. Among those five people is Linda’s 10-year-old grandson whom the family expects to enroll in the Hobbs school system since his Rockport is closed indefinitely.
“We’re more blessed than some other people. That’s why we want, instead of going down there with an empty trailer, to take donations to people less fortunate than we are,” Linda said.
Items collected so far include clothes, shoes, water, toilet paper, canned food and other non-perishables. Until the trailer, also donated, is filled or time runs short this morning, the Lee family will take additional donations. For information, call Linda at 1-210-371-6609.
They expect to work Saturday and Sunday at their Rockport home and return to Hobbs on Monday.