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Keokea church offers big donation for Hurricane Harvey relief effort in Texas

St. John’s Episcopal Church raised $3,750 to help buy power equipment

Drew Williams (from left), Brian Klein and Joe Stewart pose with a generator and power equipment to be donated to the Rockport Volunteer Fire Department to help residents of Rockport, Texas, recover from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. Williams and Stewart are employees of Hill Country Outdoor Power in Austin, Texas, and Klein is a mechanic with the Austin Fire Department. St. John’s Episcopal Church members raised $3,750 to help purchase the equipment that was provided at cost.

The Maui News

The congregation of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Keokea raised $3,750 to help with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in Rockport, Texas, which sustained major damage when the epic storm slammed directly into the coastal city last month.

The money paid for $7,000 worth of equipment with the help of Hill Country Outdoor Power, which donated the balance of the equipment value by providing it at cost, according to the Rev. Kerith Harding, rector at St. John’s.

The equipment included a 3,000-watt portable generator, heavy-duty chain saws and other saws capable of cutting through metal and concrete, Harding said Wednesday. The equipment also included oil, fuel and replacement chains and saw blades, and it all went to the Rockport Volunteer Fire Department. The equipment and supplies were transported to Rockport by a member of the Austin Fire Department.

The fire department mechanic reported that he had to spend a weekend repairing cheap power equipment and expressed gratitude for the high-quality equipment donated through the Hill Country company, Harding said.

Harding’s sister, Austin resident Lise Harding, vice president of sales and marketing at Hill Country Outdoor Power, coordinated relief efforts, and together the sisters made the equipment donation happen. The Rev. Harding asked members of her congregation to donate to help Rockport residents recover.

The Rev. Harding said she anticipates that the equipment will be used to clear downed trees and to gain access to the top floors of buildings damaged by the storm.

Harding said she recently went home to Kingwood, Texas, a suburb northeast of Houston, to be with her mother shortly before she died Aug. 21, just four days before Harvey made landfall on the coast. Luckily, her 74-year-old father’s home was left “high and dry,” she said. But just “blocks away people had very serious flooding.”

“We feel very fortunate,” she said.

Harding’s father lives alone and was without power for 48 to 72 hours, she said. He stayed home for four days, heeding the advice of police who urged residents not to leave home unless absolutely necessary.

Harding left Texas to return to Maui the day before the storm hit, not wanting to be stuck in the area and not realizing that the hurricane would be such an unprecedented event, she said.

Growing up in Texas, it’s not unusual to have hurricanes, but “we had no idea this was going to be this bad and it was,” she said. “I could not believe it.”

“My high school was essentially destroyed,” she said. “They need to rebuild it.”

There were areas flooded that had never been flooded before, Harding said.

Before the storm hit, she took old family pictures and negatives to a photo lab to have them preserved, she said. After the storm, the lab was under 4 feet of water.

“I lost a bunch of photos, but a man lost his business,” she said. “It leaves me speechless.”

The idea of donating equipment to the Rockport Volunteer Fire Department came after Harding and her sister heard that the Boston Fire Department was sending firefighters to Rockport to help with recovery efforts, she said.

“We raised more money than expected,” she said.

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