Stories from the Storm | "A Mermaid Sets Up Camp" by Jeanette Larson

Samantha  McCrary wheeling and dealing for supplies and space
Samantha McCrary is a self-described mermaid who owns a local catering company, A Mermaid's Kitchen. She evacuated from Harvey to a friend's house in Nacogdoches. While there waiting to learn the fate of her home and business, she thought about what to do next. Realizing that she might not anything to return to, she determined it didn't matter--she was going back. Although she learned that her home was standing and had weathered the storm well, she found out her business was gone. Many of her friends and first responders had lost everything and Samantha was determined to help them. A former spokeswoman for the Beef Industry Council, Samantha knows how to organize events and so she set up the Rockport Relief Camp on her property at 2321 FM 3036.

Samantha  McCrary (r) discusses evenings
needs with Andrew Sommers (l) 
McCrary said she didn't really decide to set up a relief camp so much as it just happened. Within a few days of Harvey's landfall, the camp turned into a beehive of activity with trucks arriving, people pulling in, supplies being loaded for re-distribution in town, and a cook tent whipping up three meals a day. This all comes from donations. McCrary's mother, Sandy Frick, started off with a $2,000 donation that quickly became $5,500. Samantha and her sister's turned that money into over $7,000 worth of good in Texarkana. Loaded onto a truck the women drove to Rockport and set up camp. Donations of goods and money started pouring in and people arrived for help. The food served is "my food," the same quality food prepared for A Mermaid's Kitchen. Menus are posted and dinners include brisket, chicken, mac and cheese, and other delicacies.

This is not a "pity party" McCrary emphasizes. Everyone in Rockport and the area was affected. Even those who feel they did not suffer much property damage may be out of jobs or have less income. Everyone has "messed up budgets" and all are encouraged to come for help. She emphasizes these are "love offerings," not charity and the work is designed to help us all "ease back into life" in Rockport. In addition to providing food and goods, including pet food, diapers, toys, and canned goods, the Relief Camp serves as a base for volunteers who report for work and are sent out in teams. Those who request help are asked to pay a small amount if they have insurance so that locals on the teams can be paid a small amount. She recognizes that it is hard to ask for help so encourages local residents to "let us know what you need." No one is turned away for any reason.

Sorting and redistribution of supplies is a big job
Volunteers like Andrew Sommers have come from across the state and nationwide. Sommers is on leave from his job due to a broken leg. Instead of being on bed rest, he came from Midland, TX to serve as logistics coordinator for the camp. Currently he is working with the Cajun Commissary to find a place for them to set up to feed people. He's also been working with other groups from around the country to bring in more supplies. The folks at the Relief Camp realize that this is a marathon and they will be here helping for as long as it is needed, according to McCrary.

Donations of goods can be shipped to the camp (no clothes, please!) to 2321 FM 3036, Rockport TX 78382 (or dropped off locally) and financial help can be sent to the camp via PayPal, email McCrary expects to get A Mermaid's Kitchen back in business through the use of a food trailer by early October.

350-500 meals served each day

Aransas Pass residents picking up pet supplies

Volunteer moving supplies

Rebecca Gray Peres was pleased with the FEMA help provided at the Relief Camp

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