By Ashley Loza
Kern Valley Sun
The hurricanes pelting the Eastern United States in the last couple of weeks are big news; two Category 4 hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, have mercilessly blown through the Caribbean and ended up at our door.
The first, Hurricane Harvey, went from a tropical depression to a Category 4 hurricane in just 56 hours before making landfall in Texas’ Gulf Coast. Harvey was a record-breaker; it spent 117 hours as a named storm, the longest a Texas-landfalling hurricane has remained a named storm in recorded history. Harvey was also the nation’s first major (Category 3 or higher) hurricane to make a landfall since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
Hurricane Irma, which has been downgraded to a tropical storm now that it has made landfall, is still ongoing. Damage reports from the storm remain uncertain.
A group of helpers from Kern County’s own Act Kindly, Inc., in Bakersfield and Kern River Valley’s All for One Movement traveled to Port Aransas, Texas, to bring supplies to families affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Port Aransas, located on Mustang Island off the coast near Corpus Christi, was one of the first and hardest hit locations in the U.S., experiencing winds of up to 132 mph, sustaining at about 110 mph and seeing a water level rise of 5.21 feet.
Harvey’s landfall in this area, called the Texas Coastal Bend, was the most violent on record since Hurricane Carla in 1961.
The devastation to the area was described by the local volunteers as “incredible.”
Those who traveled to Texas included Ruthanne Smith, Sheri Bryant, Sherri Jones and Wendy Bailey of the Kern River Valley and Mark Abernathy, Jerrad Johnson, Michael Baker and Larry O’Donnell from Bakersfield.
The team left for Texas on Friday, September 1, and arrived in Port Aransas on Sunday, September 3.
The team delivered supplies to a restaurant-turned-shelter called “Eat’s Restaurant,” which had been feeding survivors and volunteers for free since Harvey had reached Texas. They continued to act as a distribution center for supplies after the storm.
Both All for One and Act Kindly were instrumental in delivering aid to survivors during the Erskine Fire in 2016.
To learn more about their work, visit them at www.facebook.com/actkindly.org and www.facebook.com/allforonemovement.