St. Mary's Catholic School in West opens doors for Rockport family

Posted at 4:27 PM, Sep 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-03 15:03:41-04

A family from Rockport, where Harvey first made landfall as a Category 4 Hurricane, found a sense of normalcy after evacuating to Central Texas thanks to St. Mary's Catholic School in West.

April Garza, her husband Joe and two kids left the coastal city during the early morning hours of August 25 with 8 other family members before the storm roared ashore.

"I think I cried for at least a full hour for sure nonstop," April said.

Her son, Dylan, held her hand the entire drive.

"When a seven year has to tell you 'Mom it's okay at least we're all together,' you know that hits you hard. And it's true," April said. 

The family of 12 ended up in West at an Airbnb with no idea how long they would be staying. From the moment they arrived in town, Garza said everyone in the community was nice and helpful.

Garza's husband, Joe, is an EMT in Port Aransas and had to return to work a few days after they evacuated. 

"It's an amazing feeling as a wife knowing that he's out there willing to help anybody, complete strangers you know with whatever they need," April said.

The two kids, Isabella and Dylan, attend a Catholic school in Rockport. When the community in West found out, the school opened their doors for Dylan and Isabella to attend school if they wanted to, supplying them with uniforms and everything needed to learn.

"Happy to help. I know the importance of kids feeling normal again after a tragedy and I just wanted them to be able to come to school and feel happy and feel normal," Ericka Sammon, Principal of St. Mary's Catholic School, said.

Sammon said because of the devastation after the West Fertilizer Plant Explosion in 2013, the students understand what this family is going through.

"They know what it feels like for people to come in and just say we love y'all so much here, or what can we do to help. and it was exciting for them to be the ones to do that for someone else," Sammon said.

"To be able to be treated that way in obviously such a hard time is so comforting. It makes us feel like we're worth something when on the other hand you feel so helpless," April said.

Isabella, a third grader, and Dylan, a second grader, were welcomed by the other students.

"I would like to stay here," Dylan said.

April and the kids returned to the Corpus Christi area on Thursday to be with her husband and closer to other family.

Their home in Rockport has some water damage, but no major damage.

For the community in West and at St. Mary's Catholic School, the Garza family wants to say thank you.

"We can't say thank you enough. I don't think I could write it down a million times, it still wouldn't be enough," April said.

Copyright 2017 KXXV. All rights reserved.