Out of a school but still on track: Rockport-Fulton students not letting Harvey ruin studies

‘Harvey was strong but we're stronger'

ROCKPORT, Texas – When you think about a natural disaster, you think about safety, rebuilding homes, getting people back to work but what about school?

For Aransas County ISD, students who attend its Rockport-Fulton schools are left having to learn outside the town to continue their studies after Hurricane Harvey ripped through the small coastal town.

“Our stuff was everywhere (and) the roof was everywhere so it was all around the neighborhood mangled up,” Erica Burke, senior at Rockport-Fulton High School said.

“(We’re) used to seeing this tin roof house, but just saw boards and a structure. It looked like a skeleton. Of course, our garage that isn't connected to our house was just crumbled to pieces and that was heartbreaking,” Burke said.

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Burke and fellow senior classmate Marilyn Tucker were one of the thousands of people who left Rockport during the mandatory evacuation, but when they returned, there was devastation everywhere.

“World War 3, you know, everywhere you looked there was destruction and debris and it was barely recognizable,” Tucker said.

After Harvey, local schools were damaged at the end of the first week of school resulting in neighboring districts such as Gregory-Portland Independent School District to take in the displaced students, getting them back on track to some sort of normalcy.

“It's not going to be easy. I don't want to sugarcoat that it's going to be easy but we are determined to get the students on track and help them be successful,” Rockport-Fulton High School Principal Scott Rogers said.

For Tucker, she’s making most of her temporary new environment at Gregory-Portland High School and has enjoyed how welcoming everyone has been since arriving weeks ago.

“I'm just very fortunate to have GP (Gregory-Portland) to have us here, to have a normal lifestyle and be able to come to school. They've been very welcoming here (and) I’ve made a few new friends so it's fun. Definitely crowded but you know they're making it work,” Tucker said.

Rogers said 1,700 of his high school students have to take classes about a half-hour away because, at the moment, the school is simply uninhabitable.

“People have to do whatever they need to do to survive and we understand that but we are here for them whenever they want to return,” Rogers said.

Despite students studying miles away from their high school, they’re not letting Harvey stop them from what they love to do and will continue to move forward.

“Continue to cheer continue to do all the things that I love to do with most of the people that I've spent my whole life with … so setback? Not very much. Harvey was strong but we're stronger,” Burke said.

Rockport Mayor C.J. Wax said the current plan is to bring in 80 portable classrooms to the schools, and he hopes to bring back the students in the start of October.

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