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Hurricane Harvey five years later

Posted at 2:25 PM, Aug 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-25 21:26:03-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It's the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey's destructive visit to the Coastal Bend.

$4.5 billion dollars in damages, but fortunately, no fatalities were directly related to the hurricane.

An Aransas County man shares his story of surviving Harvey and rebuilding a life for his family, and how it's changed their lives.

I will always have a very vivid recollection of that day, Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. Photographer Dennis Kingsbury and I were embedded in it.

We began our coverage from the Fulton Marina. The winds already whipping thru. Hurricane Harvey was right there on the Coastal Bend's doorstep.

The next 12-14 hours are a time in our lives that we'll never forget.

All those who lived thru it will always have stories to tell about how they did, what they did to survive.

Joe Kirchens remembers he and his family made the decision to stay in their Aransas County home rather than seek other safer shelters.

"There was no getting outta here. Once it started hitting, and we realized it was gonna be that bad, we had to hunker down," Kirchens said.

The memories of that night are forever etched in Kirchens' mind.

Being without power for nearly four months was probably the most vivid and impactful.
But he has pictures that will always bring Harvey's destruction back to life.

So too will memories.

Memories of meeting people willing to selflessly help in the recovery.

"Rockport was rebuilt by people, churches, and good Samaritans," he said."Rockport was rebuilt by those individuals like the Amish, that paid their whole way to come down here."

Kirchens singled out organizations like the Texas Baptist Men, Samaritan's Purse, and CARE, for how they helped his family,

He said he's forged lifelong friendships and bonds, with so many, thru Harvey.

He also remembers seeing a dark side to the recovery efforts.

"Well, I learned one thing. The people that, and this is unfortunate. The people that lied to get help, got a lot of help. They knew how to work the system," he added.

He also learned about unscrupulous contractors, who roamed the Coastal Bend in the days, weeks, and months following Harvey's landfall, preying on people, anxious to rebuild as quickly as possible.

Kirchens was one of their victims.

But that was then, this is now.

You'd never be able to tell all the blood, sweat, tears, and hard work it took over five years, to rebuild his home.

It looks fantastic.

We asked If he were to put a dollar amount on how much it cost him to get it looking like it looks today, what would that be?

"Today, oh, probably(…)of my own money or a total for everything? Probably $140,000.00, "he said,

Life will never be the same, Kirchens said.

Never back to normal.

Not after what happened Aug.25, 2017.

"You get butterflies," Kirchens said."You're like what's next? And they say, oh, it's not gonna do nothin'. And you think to yourself, I ain't believin' none of that because I know what Harvey did."