On Sunday, Aug. 26, the community gathered in the Friendswood High School cafeteria for a time of remembrance and celebration. As attendees ate hot dogs and sipped on lemonade, guest speakers including Superintendent Thad Roher, Board of Trustees Vice President Tony Hopkins and Senator Larry Taylor addressed the crowd. As the audience listened, the sun beamed in through the windows and brought light to just how much had changed in one year.
On Aug. 26, 2017, Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston area, including the community of Friendswood. Exactly one year earlier, the FHS cafeteria was used – not as a location for a celebration, but rather as a shelter from the flood waters that forced hundreds of people out of their homes.
“When I first walked in [to the cafeteria], the atmosphere was very heightened. It was pouring rain and water was about a foot high in the parking lot,” Kris Kern, first responder, said. “People were scared and crying.”
Roher said there was an additional scare due to the rescue of nursing home patients from the Friendswood Healthcare Center, but said the fear did not lessen his faith.
“We thought we may start losing some people, so there was a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety about that, but I was still so thankful to The Lord for His wisdom and what He provided,” Roher said. “I could just see the blessings coming in.”
Roher said one year later, he still sees the experience as a blessing.
“The blessings are still here. It’s apparent even just seeing some people I haven’t seen in a year walk in and remember how powerful it was for us to be together in that time.”
David Cook, volunteer and FHS tennis coach, agreed.
“This sort of forced us to all help each other, which I really liked,” Cook said. “I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Roher used his time speaking in front of the crowd to remember the efforts of those who came to help the 479 displaced FISD students and 110 affected FISD employees. To the hundreds of volunteers, Roher expressed his appreciation.
“I think it’s really important to remember what happened, let those roots dig down and celebrate it,” Roher said. “This reunion also gives us the opportunity to just say ‘thank you.’”
Kern said she believes the reunion was reflective of the culture of the Friendswood community.
“I think it’s absolutely important and absolutely amazing they don’t just finish an event and walk away. They come together and celebrate their accomplishments in a time of need,” Kern said. “When there is strife, when there is difficulty, this community rises.”
With the community rising in a time of adversity, Roher said he feels the efforts made are true examples of what comes “out of the blue,” the FISD motto for the 2018-2019 school year. Roher said he cannot wait to see what else comes out of the FISD blue this year.