HAPS takes 'Bobcats Helping Bobcats'
HAPS takes 'Bobcats Helping Bobcats'
Ken McLemore, Hope Public Schools

HOPE – The Hope Bobcat community is gearing up to reach out to the victims of Hurricane Harvey in the Refugio, Texas, Bobcat community.

“Bobcats Helping Bobcats” is the theme of a project of the Hope Public Schools through the Hope Academy of Public Service to provide recovery items to the residents and school students of Refugio, Texas.

Hope Public Schools Superintendent Bobby Hart has already committed the Hope district to donate school supplies to make up the shortfall in Refugio schools.

“I am proud of our students, staff, coaches and community as they reach out to help those in need,” Hart said. “Our community has always helped those in need and we are honored to have the opportunity to serve.”

The “Bobcats Helping Bobcats” project will be coordinated through the public service curriculum of HAPS, where students will coordinate the effort with student organizations and classes on other campuses, according to HAPS Principal Dr. Carol Ann Duke.

“As part of our service learning mindset, HAPS is honored to be leading the district project of Bobcats Helping Bobcats,” Duke said. “Our students and staff want the folks in Refugio, Texas, to know they are in our thoughts and prayers as we gather supplies to help them rebuild and recover from Harvey.”

The Refugio schools’ mascot is the bobcat, which fostered the effort by the Hope Bobcats. The South Texas community of about 4,000 residents was heavily damaged by the 130-mile per hour winds and subsequent rains that Hurricane Harvey brought. The Category 4 hurricane made landfall at Rockport, Texas, on the Texas Gulf Coast, then crossed Copano Bay in lower Refugio County and hit Refugio some thirty miles inland.

According to regional reporting by The Victoria Advocate online, Refugio County remains under a “boil water” order, and power remains out in much of the county.

Refugio Schools Business Manager Lisa Herring said Monday that donations of bottled water and food items have reached the community.

“What we need most are things we can use to clean up with; things like mops, rakes, and shovels,” Herring said.

She said mold in water-damaged homes and buildings is a continuing problem.

“It’s pouring rain here, now,” Herring said Monday. “There is a lot of mold and people need those little masks they can wear because of it. And, there is a real need for tarps.”

She said clothing, especially for children, and school supplies are needed, as well.

Power has only just been restored to parts of the county and the local hospital and schools have been powered by generators. The county also remains under a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. enforced curfew.

“They are currently working on critical infrastructure lines that run to the hospital and schools so we get those up and running,” Kristen Newman, Refugio County public information officer for Hurricane Harvey response, told The Victoria Advocate on Saturday.

Refugio Schools Superintendent Melissa Gonzales said Friday that every school in the district sustained some form of damage from the winds and/or water during the storm. A newly-renovated high school was heavily damaged, winds ripping the roof from the main entrance, the auditorium and the gymnasium and exposing the interior of the building to significant water damage.

“Many students and staff have lost their homes,” Gonzales told The Advocate online.

Refugio Bobcat Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Jason Herring said he was concerned about the safety of his players.

“I know so many of our kids’ homes are gone,” Herring told The Advocate online. “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 hold of anybody. It’s real, real frustrating.”

Refugio’s first game of the football season was cancelled, as was most of the football schedule across the lower half of Texas.

Gonzales said the schools are not expected to open for classes for four to six weeks, although she is working to reduce that delay.

Information regarding donations of children’s clothing and recovery items for “Bobcats Helping Bobcats” may be obtained by contacting Duke at 870-777-3454, or HPS Communications Director Ken McLemore at ken.mclemore@hpsdistrict.org online.