Eagle athletic director Mike Netzel and former Eagle state baseball champion Tim Redden ‘09 organized a relief effort that generated significant results for storm-ravaged Rockport, Texas, where Hurricane Harvey made landfall with 130 MPH gusts on an unprecedented path of life-threatening destruction and flooding through the Greater Houston area and the Gulf Coast into Louisiana.
The massive damage inflicted on Rockport included perhaps as much as 60-70% of businesses / residences impacted, either destroyed or damaged beyond repair.
Netzel: “My takeaway from Thursday is God is good. We threw this out in less than 48 hours. There was a need to place some attention on Rockport and make sure the people were not forgotten in the recovery effort.
This is a testament to the humanity of our community, that people trust in our school, understand that our heart is for people, and the reach of St. Thomas stretches throughout the city. Incredible that we could make just a dent and I’m so grateful to all those who gave of themselves during one of the worst weeks in Houston history.”
Redden’s home community was in desperate need of assistance … water, cleaning materials, non-perishable food, hardware supplies, batteries, flashlights, clothing … any and all necessities required when a home is suddenly and randomly gone.
Redden: “I grew up in Rockport … moved to Houston when I was 13. That is my hometown. My mother (Tammy) still lives there. It’s awful to see the pictures of that destruction. Rockport and the people can now easily fall through the cracks which is why Mike and I wanted to at least do the most we could do, put together something and the result was incredible. This response was honestly overwhelming but we’ve seen how supportive and loving our city is this week. Anyone who understands St. Thomas knows this is our identity, to reach out to those in need. It’s the teaching of goodness, discipline and knowledge.”
St. Thomas Principal Aaron Dominguez ‘96: “Given what this the city has endured this week I wasn’t sure we would have this kind of turnout, this amount of supplies and support, but I’m not surprised. Proud is not near strong enough a description. This is typical of our St. Thomas community, ready and willing to respond. I can’t relate the number of contacts that were made to me this week, what could people do, how could they get involved. This is just one example of what it looks like when it comes to fruition.”
Delivery to Rockport is scheduled to take place within 48 hours and is aided greatly by the efforts of dedicated St. Thomas supporters Amy and Bo Huggins.
Redden is now practicing in Houston with Donato, Minx, Brown & Pool, P.C. after graduating from South Texas College of Law in May 2016.
Redden: “Our home in Rockport took on structure damage, the foundation and roof, water in the house, but at least we have a standing building. Most of the people there don’t. Just awful. I have great memories growing up … fishing with my father … my grandfather championed the Little League program. Cannot imagine what I’m going to feel once we arrive and see if with our own eyes. I’m expecting something resembling a war zone.”
Faculty member Grover Green … his family of five including week-old daughter Anastasia … and six relatives including father-in-law who is scheduled for treatment at MD Anderson … were effectively forced from their Walnut Bend residence by the threat and aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Yet despite an emotional roller coaster of a week … and in the true Basilian spirit of St. Thomas … Green was on campus giving to the relief efforts for Rockport.
Green: “St. Thomas is family and Houston is family. This is what our faith calls us to do. There are those in far, far worse circumstances than (my family) right now. Our house may or may not be under water … don’t know yet … but we have insurance and can recover. So many throughout the Gulf Coast may not. We barely made it out of the neighborhood around 3:00 a.m. Wednesday. But we’re safe in a hotel and wanted to reach out to the Rockport community. It’s just the grace of God.”
Travis Bartniski ‘18 is a third generation Eagle (Edward ‘57 and Mark ‘83), an exemplary student-athlete ambassador who served the Rockport relief initiative.
Bartniski: “I wasn’t able to get out of my neighborhood during the early days of Harvey so this event was the best way for me to give back. This response was phenomenal … tells you the reputation of St. Thomas … that even those who are not direct members of the community will support the school and its efforts. I have to believe that people who were in their own need … receiving support in their own situations and within their own houses … made the time to support this effort.”
Emma Gorski is a former Eagle cheerleader, in her second year leading Eagle Cheer and a second-year law student at South Texas College of Law. She was one of hundreds who contributed to the relief efforts that will benefit the a shattered community now recovering in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Gorski: “I love St. Thomas and love that are again reaching out to help others. My family went to Rockport all the time in the summers when I was growing up so there’s a personal connection to that community. My sister has a two-year-old and I can’t image those in Rockport in that position with nothing … diapers, formula … just breaks your heart. I wanted to do what I could to try to help. I live right behind Memorial High School and thankfully escaped without damage. So many others are devastated. You just try to what you can do and hope it can make just a little bit of difference.”
Catholic. Basilian. Teaching Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge since 1900.