When Hurricane Harvey came roaring ashore the coast of Rockport and Fulton, Texas, the community had less than 20-hours notice of its landfall. Although planning and crisis management had always been a priority of the leadership of the community, the community itself was hit so hard that officials were told it would take 10-years to fully recover.
To add to that, the storm then moved up the coast to the Houston area taking the attention of the nation with it. The coming weeks, months and years would turn out to be challenging, rewarding, exciting and exhausting. The community leaders banded together in long term recovery and worked a plan. Now, five years later, visitors would not even know the community had been hit by a Category 4-plus hurricane.
One year after the storm, the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce Tourism Development Council held a Strategic Planning Session to map out the next five years to bring back tourism. One of the strategic goals in that plan was to tell the story of Hurricane Harvey so visitors would know what we went through and to thank the people and donors that came to our aid.
Impressed with the Ground Zero Exhibit in Waveland, MS, the Chamber set out to fund the reconstruction of the inside of its existing Visitor Center. The project would cost $50,000 to $60,000. A private foundation, individuals and business donors, along with hotel occupancy tax came to the rescue.
With the floor of the Visitor Center being octagonal in shape, this made way for eight panels on a display board. The eight areas were to focus on the timeline of events, news across the nation, donors, gifts, volunteers, debris, and silver linings incorporating as many videos, charts, graphs as needed.
The Chamber Staff created the content of the exhibit and then turned it over to the head of Creative Services for the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, TX to design the project. View opening night here.
One of the highlights of the exhibit is a visit by George Strait, the King of Country and Western music. He visits the Rockport-Fulton area right after the storm. He and his wife have a home in Rockport. He spoke to the people of Rockport-Fulton just weeks after the storm giving a message of hope and that our community will not be forgotten. Listen here.
The exhibit debuted on the 5th anniversary during a ceremony on the lawn of the Chamber highlighting the Rock Solid people of the Rockport-Fulton area and thanking those across the nation for their support and contributions. Former Dallas Cowboy NFL Player Dat Nguyen helped announce that message with a video.
The community was asked to supply items to add to the exhibit. These “Harvey Remnants” are items around the community brought about through Hurricane Harvey. A list of drive-by remnants was also created and made available here.
A great resource for you is the help desk at the U.S. Chamber Foundation Community Resilience and Disaster Response. Be sure to click here as they reached out to me the Monday after the storm and immediately made a consideration donation to our community’s Go Fund Me Account. It is filled with information to assist you with the Resilience in a Box Program and more.
For more information on the Rockport-Fulton area, click here.