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#HARVEY: The Night Harvey Hit the Coastal Bend

Andy Harvey signs.png
Posted at 2:32 PM, Aug 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-25 18:17:05-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Photographer Dennis Kingsbury and I were assigned to be embedded in Rockport in anticipation of Hurricane Harvey on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017.

We began reporting in the late afternoon from the Fulton Harbor, in the midst of rain and strong winds that nearly blew us away.

By 10:30 p.m., we were driving through Rockport.

Rain was coming down.

There were 130-mile-an-hour winds.

Tree limbs hit our news vehicle.

Dennis did a great job dodging downed power lines that lay across the streets we tried driving on.

Dennis Kingsbury video of downed power lines during Harvey

It was pitch black, and we would eventually learn all communication was dead.

Incredible!

We saw the wall of a building completely ripped off.

andy-dennis video side of building ripped off

We saw the Rockport-Fulton High School Gym damaged.

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We had stopped to shoot some poorly-lit video, when out of the complete darkness, a man ran up to us asking if we had any water to drink.

Unfortunately, we did not -- not even for ourselves.

We finally made it to the Aransas County Law Enforcement Center.

Harvey's winds had blown down the communications tower, triggering alarms and lights throughout the complex inside and outside.

And, again, no chance for any communication, in or out. Call it a communications breakdown.

"The power's down," said Aransas Co. Sheriff Billy Mills recalled. "The cars were all lit up. No radio. No phones."

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However, once power was restored, it was a different story.

"When that energized, they had 4400 calls in 24 hours in the dispatch center," Mills told me.

Melissa De Marcus made one of those 4400 calls. Her house sits a block from the high school. Harvey's winds had blown a big tree into her house, and caused other damage as well.

Gulf Point Skilled Nursing facility administrator Amy Hicks made sure Harvey couldn't hurt her residents, nor those at the nearby Assisted Living Center.

"Come June 1st is when I start to get my staff organized and my residents organized," she told us.

So organized, in fact, that the day before Harvey hit, more than 100 residents were bused to other facilities across Texas, not to return until 9 months later, when facilities were deemed safe.

Now, four years later, the high school has a brand-new gymnasium, thanks to the generosity of talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres.

De Marcus says her house still hasn't been put back together again.

She's had to hire multiple contractors, but it's still not done, four years later.

There are other parts of this tourist-destination coastal town still rebuilding, according to Mills, his department included. He said that it's still not back to where it should be, but good things are happening.

Rockport and Aransas County are coming back stronger.

"I feel like we're a whole lot better prepared to lead up to it, as well as respond to it," he said.