In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Texans learned a few things. We learned that, despite the divisions our country is facing, there are good people all over this nation of ours. We learned that we're stronger than we realized. Most importantly though, we learned that there are some folks who will always have our backs. Namely, our Gulf Coast neighbors, who themselves have often weathered hurricanes. This time help came from the coastal city of Gulfport, Miss.
Even the mayor of Gulfport, Billy Hewes, came to visit the city. Hewes, who recalls clearly the recovery effort in Gulfport after Hurricane Katrina, offered advice to Charles J. Wax, the Chief of Police and Mayor of the small town of Rockport. "The best advice I can offer, at this time, is to keep the faith," said Hewes. "You have seen the worst of Mother Nature, but in the coming days, months, and years you will see the best of humanity. Things will get better."
The Gulfport Police Department came to Rockport, Texas on Sept. 7 and met with local law enforcement. They even treated the Rockport first responders to a huge cookout.
"We spent that time with them after-hours telling them about how the next few weeks, days, months, and years will go," Gulfport Police Department's Public Information Officer, Sgt. Joshua Bromen told Southern Living. "We offered them things to look for and tips for recovery."
The Gulfport PD know all about disaster relief, having themselves received assistance from Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
"As so many residents of the Mississippi Gulf Coast know that continued support after Hurricane Katrina allowed so many of us to get our lives back in order," the Gulfport PD wrote on their Facebook page. "It was the countless volunteers that kept coming to the coast that made it happen." This time they returned the favor.
The officers delivered and set up generators for residents who were still without power. They also pitched in to clean up debris littering the streets, yards and beaches of the town. As if that weren't enough, in addition to physical aid, they brought $11,000 worth of gift certificates to help Rockport recover.
The department has plans to bring a trailer they can use for extended stays in the coming days and weeks, and intends to return again to Rockport in October.
As for the officers, helping another port town was a poignant experience.
"This was a life-changing event for me," Officer Nate Abbott said.