Teens remember northern neighbors who provided help

Thursday, March 21, 2019

A year and a half after Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas coast vacation destination of Port Aransas, residents are struggling to get things back to normal.

Tourism is picking up, but not the throngs that flocked to fishing charters, nature sanctuaries and beaches in years past, before Hurricane Harvey hit.

Aug. 25, 2017, The category 4 storm hit Mustang Island with 160-mile winds, water and tornadoes that destroyed buildings of all types and damaged high-rise vacation condominiums, many of which have yet to be repaired.

With the tourists left hospitality workers who no longer had jobs or affordable housing.

It’s taken heroic effort, and there’s a long way to go, and “Port A” is on the road to recovery, but residents won’t soon forget the struggle.

Thus, when a group of local high school students saw news reports about the storm that hit most of northwest Nebraska, they felt compelled to help.

An organization called Port Aransas Marlins United, which helps students at local schools learn about volunteerism and public service, joined with the National Honor Society to pay back help their community had received from the Cornhusker State.

They’re collecting toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, sanitizer, masks for cleanup and all sorts of supplies that they know first-hand will come in handy.

Port Aransas Elementary School is also collecting donations for dogs and cats at animal shelters that were displaced by the flooding.

Those who have lost faith in human nature should take heart in the fact the Texas effort is more of the rule rather than the exception.

And the help is truly needed.

According to Nebraska officials, there are 89 emergency declarations in the state, including 77 counties, four tribal nations and five special government areas such as unincorporated townships. That covers more than 80 percent of the state.

Nebraska has a special connection with other farming states, with offers of hay, feed, equipment and other ag-related donations coming from Oklahoma, Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, Georgia, Michigan, Kansas, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, North Carolina and Colorado as well as Texas, according to state officials.

Most help will come from within the state, however, and our pages have been carrying many stories about local opportunities to help, and guidance about how to best meet the needs of those affected by the storm.

Like our neighbors on the Texas coast, our neighbors elsewhere in Nebraska will face challenges for years to come as they struggle to recover from the March 13, 2019 storm.

It’s reassuring to know that people who receive a hand up in time of need are usually first in line to help when they see others in dire straits.

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