Refugio County suffers extensive damage

McFaddin Church after Hurricane Harvey.

Rosie Gonzales had planned to ride out Hurricane Harvey at her Refugio home.

But her husband, Encarnacion, convinced her Friday evening to go to their son Rene’s home.

Gonzales is thankful she left after her home was virtually destroyed.

“The carport, the front porch, the wash room, my room, the closet is all gone,” Gonzales said. “It’s just totaled. There’s just one room and that’s about it. Everything is ruined…everything, the water.”

Gonzalas was not the only Refugio resident whose property was destroyed by the 140-mph winds the hurricane produced.

“I got word from Sheriff Pinky Gonzales that there were no casualties,” said T. Wayne Price, the pastor of the First Baptist Church, “but it was horrible.”

Price left to stay with his son in Cedar Park, but learned his church had suffered severe damage.

“We just heard that we basically lost the roof on the sanctuary,” he said. “It’s pretty devastating.”

Rosie Gonzales described going through the storm as a terrifying experience.

“Oh God, it was bad, it was bad,” she said. “My son and husband had to stand by the front door. They had to put something on the front door because the wind was trying to open it. It was blowing that hard. The rain started coming in through the windows and stuff.”

The storm was not only intense, it continued throughout the night.

“It was bad and it went around and we got the other part,” she said. “We never got the eye. It never stopped. It slowed down a little bit and we got the other part. It was bad. You should see the devastation over here. It is awful. It is awful.”

The damage included the high school, which has recently been rebuilt.

“I was just told the roof on our gym is gone, the main entrance roof is gone and the roof on our auditorium is gone,” said Refugio athletic director and head football coach Jason Herring. “There is no telling how much damage is done. It took them about a year-and-half, two years to redo that school so I don’t know what we’re going to do.”

Herring, who traveled to the West Texas town of Robert Lee, said his home suffered only minor damage, but knows some of his players lost their homes.

Herring has been unable to get in touch with most of them.

“I know so many of our kids’ homes are gone. I know they’re gone,” he said. “I’m really worried about our kids. The problem is they all live on their cell phones and there’s no power to recharge their phones so I can’t get a hold of anybody. It’s real, real frustrating.”

Herring is uncertain when school will resume or when he will be able to make it back to Refugio.

The Refugio County Sheriff’s Office has urged residents not to try and return because the city has no power, water or sewerage services.

Mike Forman is the sports editor of the Victoria Advocate. He has worked at the Advocate since 1982. He has a bachelor's degree from SMU and a master's degree from UCLA.