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2017-09-06 / Featured

Seeking refuge in the storm

Hurricane evacuees find haven in Wilson County
By Felipe Salazar
Exclusive to the Wilson County News


One evacuee, so excited to be returning to her home on the Texas Gulf Coast Sept. 1, emblazons her car in the Floresville Walmart parking lot with a heartfelt message: “Thank you from Rockport-Fulton! Heading home!” Though she wasn’t sure what she’d see when she got there and was sure it would be “dire,” she was thankful to the Floresville community for its hospitality, and was ready to go home. 
ELAINE KOLODZIEJ/Reprints at mywcn.com/photos One evacuee, so excited to be returning to her home on the Texas Gulf Coast Sept. 1, emblazons her car in the Floresville Walmart parking lot with a heartfelt message: “Thank you from Rockport-Fulton! Heading home!” Though she wasn’t sure what she’d see when she got there and was sure it would be “dire,” she was thankful to the Floresville community for its hospitality, and was ready to go home. ELAINE KOLODZIEJ/Reprints at mywcn.com/photos Most of the time, people travel from this area down to the Texas coast for some rest and relaxation.

As Hurricane Harvey threatened, many residents of the Texas Gulf Coast came inland to Floresville — not to relax, but to escape Mother Nature’s wrath.

One family of 10 came from Port Lavaca. Jesse Sanchez, along with his wife, their daughter, her husband, and their children, left their homes Aug. 25 as rain began falling ahead of the hurricane.

Jesse’s wife is bedridden and needs care. They followed their daughter and her family into Floresville, where they found refuge at the Super 8 motel.

Jesse’s daughter and her husband and all but one of the grandchildren have since returned to their home in Port Lavaca. They found their homes were undamaged and had been spared by the rising waters. Utilities such as water and gas are working, she told her dad, but the electricity is still out; it may be restored next week. His house, she said, appears unscathed, with only a tree down.

Jesse hopes to return to check on his home soon, but with his wife needing care, they will remain in Floresville until power is restored in their neighborhood.

Everyone in Floresville has been very friendly and supportive of their needs, Jesse said.

The Church of Christ is providing meals to the residents of Floresville motels and hotels each evening. Guests add their names to a sign-up sheet at the front desk in the morning, and meals are delivered about 6 p.m.

While Jesse and his wife are staying in a motel, other evacuees with needs have found accommodation in Wilson County nursing facilities. More than 70 residents of nursing facilities in the Coastal Bend area were transported inland to escape the storm. Some were housed in the Floresville and Stockdale residence and rehabilitation centers; others are now in a San Antonio center.

Some of their caregivers traveled to Wilson County, as well.

Nurse Tarrilyn Turner from Edna, near Victoria, is among them. She and others volunteered to accompany the residents wherever they were transported, and are staying at the Best Western Floresville Inn.

Tarrilyn’s husband elected to stay behind and care for their home. He reported some high water around their home, but only a little in the house, she said, and the water has begun to recede.

Tarrilyn and her co-workers will stay in the area until their residents can return to the coast.

With tears in her eyes, she said the residents are like family to her and it hurts to see them having to move out of their comfort zones.

Hometown help

Dr. Emily Frye with WellMed in Floresville said the nurses, aides, and staff of the Floresville Residence and Rehabilitation Center have been working long hours every day without days off since they took in evacuated residents from the Coastal Bend area.

Area residents are encouraged to contribute items to lift the spirits of the staff and let them know people care. These can include:

•Food for the staff while on breaks

•Cookies

•Treats

•Personal items

•Cards.

Deliver donations to 1811 Sixth St. in Floresville, or call 830-393-2561.

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