The following is a first-person account by one of our staffers here at The Dime. A native of Corpus Christi, Texas, Tracy was compelled to return home in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. She wanted (and needed) to help in any way she could. Read more about her journey back to Texas' Gulf Coast below.
On August 24, 2017, I was engrossed in the news of what was about to happen to my hometown.
I moved to Colorado over a decade ago, but the Gulf Coast of Texas will always be my home. My family is still there, my friends are still there…so much of my life is still there. Yet, there’s so much here in Colorado, too. A piece of my heart lives in each place.
So, when I heard that the biggest hurricane in decades was headed straight for my coastal playground and home, I panicked. I was a ball of anxiety as I sat in Colorado with my best friends and watched the news unfold. Then it hit. It hit the place I grew up. It hit the place I learned to snorkel. It hit the place I learned to drive, to cry, to laugh, to be a naughty teenager, to grow up, to love, and to move away from.
It hit hard. Every American knows by now what Hurricane Harvey was capable of. He was relentless. He was mean. He was destructive. He was wet—SO, so wet. The fourth largest city in the United States was (and still is) underwater.
The wind, and rain, and powerful storm surges that slammed into Rockport, Baytown, Port Aransas, Port Lavaca, Aransas Pass, Portland, Ingleside, Refugio, and all the other small towns along the coast, completely took these places and turned them upside down and inside out. These places are my heart.
I have a background in animal welfare and rescue. When the news of Hurricane Harvey hit, I immediately announced that I was going home. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I had to get down there. Within 72 hours, my friends had helped me raise over $3,500 in cash, and gather together priceless donations of veterinary supplies.
I started driving. On a 15ish-hour drive, you have a lot of time to think. I had moments of panic. I had moments of fear. I had moments of sheer dread. But by the time I reached Eden, Texas, and after high-fiving an old cowboy loaded down with pet supplies on a giant flatbed trailer, I knew what I had to do: I had to help the little guys.
Over the next three days, I visited more animal shelters and rescue groups than I thought possible. The damage that Harvey inflicted is simply indescribable. I don’t know how to put into words the feeling of seeing an entire town completely torn apart. And then seeing another one just like it. And then another. And then another, and another, and another…all filled with friends, and neighbors, and strangers, all pitching in to help. There were helpers everywhere; Mr. Rogers would have been proud.
All told, I visited or talked to 13 shelters within a two-hour drive of Corpus Christi, and donated supplies and/or cash to all of them. I got a lot of hugs; I got stung by Jurassic-sized mosquitos (whose marks are still on my body); I cried; I laughed; I broke down at the destruction. But still, I left with a renewed sense of purpose.
Total raised: $3,675 in cash, in addition to priceless veterinary, medical, and other crucial supplies.
Total gas expenses: $196.70
Miles traveled: ~2,540
At the end of the day, the sun still sets over the sand dunes, and rises over the bay. My home and my heart will rebuild—of that I am sure.