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School community copes with aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

Destruction left people devastated but grateful for their safety

Hurricane+Harvey+left+many+piles+of+debris%2C+such+as+this+one+in+Port+Aransas+on+Aug.+26%2C+the+day+after+the+130+mph+storm+hit.+Flour+Bluff+sophomore+Shelby+Gallegos%2C+a+Port+Aransas+resident%2C+said+that+this+pile+was+one+of+the+largest+near+her+home%2C+the+Island+RV+Park.
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School community copes with aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey left many piles of debris, such as this one in Port Aransas on Aug. 26, the day after the 130 mph storm hit. Flour Bluff sophomore Shelby Gallegos, a Port Aransas resident, said that this pile was one of the largest near her home, the Island RV Park.

Hurricane Harvey left many piles of debris, such as this one in Port Aransas on Aug. 26, the day after the 130 mph storm hit. Flour Bluff sophomore Shelby Gallegos, a Port Aransas resident, said that this pile was one of the largest near her home, the Island RV Park.

Photo by Shelby Gallegos

Hurricane Harvey left many piles of debris, such as this one in Port Aransas on Aug. 26, the day after the 130 mph storm hit. Flour Bluff sophomore Shelby Gallegos, a Port Aransas resident, said that this pile was one of the largest near her home, the Island RV Park.

Photo by Shelby Gallegos

Photo by Shelby Gallegos

Hurricane Harvey left many piles of debris, such as this one in Port Aransas on Aug. 26, the day after the 130 mph storm hit. Flour Bluff sophomore Shelby Gallegos, a Port Aransas resident, said that this pile was one of the largest near her home, the Island RV Park.

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On Aug. 25, Hurricane Harvey slammed the Port Aransas area and uprooted students and their families.  

The school district’s faculty, staff and students eased some of the pain by welcoming more than 100 displaced Port Aransas students who enrolled here for the first six weeks while the Port Aransas district rebuilt.

Sophomore Reese Hall’s family stayed in Port Aransas when Harvey hit the area. The storm hit Hall’s family home hard, but it withstood the storm. They lost their fence, and when they returned home they had a neighbor’s trampoline in their backyard. Every tall tree in the neighborhood had fallen.

Hall’s father was out of a job for a couple of weeks after the storm.

“I don’t care about everything I’ve lost. I am just happy to be alive,” Hall said.

Hall said he worked with the Coast Guard during the storm to help rescue at least 26 people from homes and get them to safety.

There were about 2,050 students registered during the first week of school, up from the usual 1,900. Classes were so overcrowded that teachers scrambled to find more chairs. The hallways were jammed with students and long lunch lines made lunchtime hectic.

When Hall first came to Flour Bluff, he wore the same clothes every day after having lost his wardrobe in the storm.

“I was scared everyone (would make) fun of me,” he said.  

A few Port Aransas students were scared going to a bigger school and having to sit in classes with students they didn’t know.

Some students said that the storm changed their lives, and they weren’t ready to throw out so much of their damaged clothes and furniture.

“I grew up in Port Aransas all my life, so to see my town destroyed, it hurts,” sophomore  Chase Shelton said.

Port Aransas High School opened its doors on Oct. 16, and while students were happy to go back to their smaller, more familiar campus, they left behind new friends here.

The storm left students with no phone service and no internet. It was scary to some students to go back and see that so little of the town left. It even “took an emotional toll,” Shelton said.

Hurricane Harvey unified the Port Aransas student body.

“My relationships with my friends and family have gotten stronger by coming together and cleaning up and helping with people who lost a lot of their stuff,” Hall said.

Most of the Port Aransas students are thrilled to go back to their school. Some said they are going to miss all the new friends they made while they were enrolled here.

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School community copes with aftermath of Hurricane Harvey