Surviving & Thriving After Hurricane Harvey: A Boerne Family's Story
Do you remember where you were when Hurricane Harvey struck the coast? We had just returned from Port Aransas two days before and, honestly, the first I had even heard of Harvey was on the drive back. We took the ferry from Port A to Rockport, rather than taking our usual way home, just to see what Rockport Beach was all about. We had a wonderful lunch at a local mom-and-pop spot, then walked the boardwalk and let the kiddos stretch their legs on the playground before the long drive home.
Then, once we were back in Boerne safe and sound, tragedy came upon the coast and it was completely surreal. Little did I know at the time, that a new friend of mine had a family home in Rockport…and that in a matter of a day, they would lose it all.
Perhaps you know Tori Bellos; Boerne is a rather small town, after all. But do you know this story? Read ahead to hear of her family’s struggle, persistence, and triumph…and why she says Rockport is back and better than ever.
When life gives you lemons…open a bottle of wine, thank God for the safety of the ones you love, then put on your work boots and rebuild.
We dodged a bullet. The day before Hurricane Harvey hit, we were planning to head down to Rockport, from Boerne, to board up windows and ride out the storm. However, better judgment prevailed, and we didn’t stick around. My parents had JUST finished the renovation of their dream home on the bay, “Tortuga Sunrise”, the week that Harvey hit. Had we stayed behind for our own mini-hurricane-party, we would have been very damp, windblown, and shaken…or worse.
Many Rockport residents lost literally everything, and we were all very thankful that Tortuga Sunrise was not a primary residence for our family. We traveled down the day after the storm passed to assess the damage and recover what we could. What we found was that the only salvageable structures were the new dock and boat lift; the house was a total loss.
The months and years that have passed since then have been filled with an array of emotions: frustration, anticipation, annoyance, excitement, and pride—and those were just from me! I can only imagine what my parents have felt throughout the process.
And I want to point out that when I say, “pride”, I don’t mean pride for the finished product—which is beautiful, and I am proud of the hard work that was put in by the entire family—but rather, pride in my parents and their perseverance. I never once heard a woe-is-me complaint, even when the process inevitably didn’t go as planned. Not only did they spend their time tearing down and rebuilding their own house from scratch, but their servants’ hearts shone through (as they always do) and they spent much of their time supporting others in the community as well, even in the midst of their own crisis…and we were in awe.
Flash forward to today and Tortuga Sunrise stands tall, once again. Praise God! And when it’s not serving as a home to wonderful renters, we spend every opportunity possible making family memories of our own there. Morning cups of coffee, just Dad and me on the upper deck, watching the sun come up over the bay before the rest of the house starts stirring. Checking the crab trap on the dock with the kids throughout the day. Relaxing and enjoying a rare moment alone in a hammock in the afternoon shade. Watching the little ones run around in the backyard with a kite or jumping through the sprinkler. Or just enjoying a glass of wine and adult conversation while preparing dinner and taking in the massive waterfront view across the backside of the house. And then there’s the fishing—in fact, just this evening, my youngest daughter and niece caught their very first fish off the dock, under the green fishing light. Priceless.
Of course, when people hear our story, they often ask how the rest of the Rockport community is coming along. Yes, there was massive devastation, and yes, there are some places around town where there is still work to be done. However, I’d like to let everyone know: ROCKPORT IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS AND READY FOR YOU!
Most of our favorite restaurants have re-opened their doors, including Los Comales, Moondog’s, Paradise Key and Rockport Daily Grind and they’re being joined by brand new, exciting businesses like Benchwarmers, and so many others that we haven’t even had time to try yet!
The main drag is bustling and filled with a variety of boutiques and art galleries that make me long for an excuse to head downtown without the small ones! However, even with the kiddos in tow, we have found an assortment of great sights to see and stores to pop into including the porch at Rowdy Maui, the Mermaid Ranch and a shell shop called Treasure Islander. A new addition to the collection of shops that we have visited multiple times already is Goin’ Coastal Outfitters, which boasts super cute clothing, jewelry, beachwear, and an ICE CREAM COUNTER! It’s a very family-friendly establishment run by an incredibly kind family.
And you just can’t go to Rockport without taking the little ones to Rockport Beach. It’s a more mellow scene than Port Aransas, has smaller waves, and the water is shallow for hundreds of yards, which makes for a much more relaxed beach experience. It’s also a stone’s throw away from the Rockport jetties, where you can easily walk to the end, and you just never know what kinds of aquatic friends you will meet, chilling on the rocks along the way!
Stops at the bait stands and docks are also a short walk away and you can almost always find something interesting waiting in the live wells. Today there was an abundance of blue crab and little shad. Be sure to pick up a few pounds of fresh-from-the-bay table shrimp for dinner while you’re there.
Just across the street from the bait stands is the Texas Maritime Museum. Full disclosure, I’ve never been inside the museum, but my kids love climbing the huge anchors outside and, of course, taking advantage of the fun photo opportunity that brings.
The Tule Marsh makes for a nice nature walk and you’ll find great interpretive signage and an outdoor classroom space along its new boardwalk and trails.
And if you’re a fan of the colorful Art Al Fresco scene here at home, in Boerne, you’ll get a kick out of the art around Rockport too, which provide loads of opportunities for photos with the wee ones.
Rockport has always been a special place for our family, and it will always hold a significant place in our hearts. However, watching Mother Nature strip it down to its bare bones and seeing the community come together to rebuild brings about a new level of respect and admiration. It makes us proud to be a part of this charming little coastal town; proud to say that we are #rockportstrong; and proud to share our little piece of paradise with you.
If you’d like to stay up to speed with the latest and greatest from Tortuga Sunrise, you can follow along on Facebook HERE. Looking for more information about visiting Rockport? You’ll find most of what you need HERE. Have your own Rockport memories you’d like to share? Tell us in the comments!
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NOTE: This post was written by guest blogger, Tori Bellos, and all photos belong to Tori or Tortuga Sunrise.