LETTERS: Thanks to McAllen from Harvey victims, online classes and Constitution Day

Relief comes slowly for coastal towns recovering from Harvey

My name is Susan Johnson and I’m from Portland, Texas. My husband, Larry, and I had to evacuate our home on Aug. 25, due to Hurricane Harvey. We wanted to share with you and the community about our first trip to McAllen and how warm and caring everyone was toward us.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on South 6th Street. When checking in, the staff knew our situation and could not have been more compassionate and caring. They offered support and made us feel at home, especially when we did not know if we would have a home to return to. They gave us overwhelming support.

On Aug. 26, we went to Pappadeaux Restaurant for dinner in McAllen and received the same welcoming treatment. Managers Isabelina Rodriguez and Alfred Samaniego and our server, Omar Zendejac, were so wonderful to us. The concern and love they

showed us was unbelievable. They offered their support and it was truly sincere. Pappadeaux gave all hurricane victims a complimentary dessert, which was greatly appreciated.

We left with hugs from the staff.

This experience was an emotional time for us and it was heartwarming to see how the town of McAllen pulled together to support those of us in need. With our country in such turmoil, it was so comforting and wonderful to see how other counties welcomed us with open arms and made us feel at home.

The next day on our way home we passed at least six trucks with trailers full of water and supplies that were heading in our direction with a lead truck that read “Harlingen Rescue Team.” To see that brought tears to my eyes.

Larry and I were blessed and fortunate because Harvey made that slight turn at the end and our home was spared. We had

some minor damages, but all that can be repaired without a lot of fuss. We suffered nothing like our neighboring towns of Ingleside, Aransas Pass, Rockport and Port Aransas, which are still dealing with the devastation. Our hearts and prayers go out to all of them, and especially to our neighbors in Houston.

We truly appreciate President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife for coming to Texas to see first-hand the devastation suffered by our wonderful state. We know they will take all this information back to Congress to pass measures that will help make Texas stronger and better than before.

Thanks again to the McAllen and all the wonderful people there. I hope we never have to face this experience again, but if we do, we know where to go for comfort and support.

Susan and Larry Johnson, Portland, Texas

Online classes weathered Harvey well

Hurricane Harvey unleashed its fury on the Lone Star State right as the new school year got underway. But while most brick and mortar public schools in southern Texas had to cancel classes due to the unprecedented floodwaters, students at Texas Online Preparatory School (TOPS) were able to start their school year and attend online classes as long as they had access to Internet and power. Students without Internet and power were able to work on offline coursework.

Many parents expressed relief and gratitude that their children’s ability to focus on school created a sense of normalcy during an otherwise out of control situation.

“God bless a truck, a boat, strong hearts and bodies,” said Tammie Newman, a parent of four TOPS students in North Harris County.

Some TOPS teachers and staff were themselves affected by the storm. The home of one online school homeroom advisor was surrounded by water for two days but she still conducted class sessions and placed phone calls to check on students and families.

Other teachers evacuated their homes but found safe havens to continue to be available to students. That’s dedication!

The flexibility of the online school model helped to foster a sense of routine with the least amount of disruption to education possible. Our educators exemplified the K-12 values of passion, accountability, courage and trust in spades during this ordeal. I am honored and inspired to have the opportunity to leverage education technology to ensure learning continued during this national crisis.