Corpus Christi women create makeshift grocery store inside church for Harvey victims

Rockport residents living on town's edge limited on food, supplies for miles

By Adrian Garcia - Digital Journalist

ROCKPORT, Texas - Six miles north of the heart of Rockport, residents say they were among the hardest hit when Hurricane Harvey made landfall just one month ago.

Homes destroyed, boats on land and trailers in the water are some of the heartbreaking images seen within subdivisions such as Copano Cove and Copano Ridge.

Because residents there live on the edge of Rockport city limits, receiving supplies and hot meals were almost impossible after Harvey, until two Corpus Christi women responded to their distress calls.

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“Driving to Rockport, you could see the difference between Corpus and into Rockport. When we would drive out here, in the beginning, everything was so dark, everything was dry, everything was dead (and) it just looked a little spooky,” Belinda Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said she and her friend Irene Verstiqui teamed up, wanting to help the Rockport community, and quickly reached out to church groups in the area.

That’s when the pastor of Salt Lake Baptist Church allowed Gonzalez and Verstiqui to turn the damaged church into a makeshift grocery store, along with a place where people can enjoy hot meals.

“God gives us the energy and as long as he needs us here. We are in this building, a church, we don’t belong to this church but they gave us permission to put the products in here,” Gonzalez said.

“As you can see, we have a little bit of everything,” Verstiqui said.

With proof of residency, people are able to pick from the well-stocked shelves, anything from canned goods to paper products, dog food, baby items and even clothes.

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After starting the relief efforts with their own money, Verstiqui said mostly all of their items now inside the church were all given from outside donations and the residents cannot thank them enough for all the blessings. 

“Always gives us thanks and they’re so appreciative for us to be here every day. They make us feel good and they make us want to be here,” Verstiqui said.

With no help for miles days after Harvey, Gonzalez said one of their volunteers did not eat for three days until she found the food pantry down the road.

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“She didn’t have anything to eat for three days until she found us when she was going to walk into town to get some food,” Gonzalez said.

“We’ve noticed a difference from day one when they’re crying the minute they start talking to us, so now you see their smiles on their faces.”

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