Despite occurring a little over four years ago, many communities that were hit by Hurricane Harvey are still finding themselves recovering. The Texas General Land Office has recently completed repairs to the Refugio Elderly Apartments after damage sustained during Hurricane Harvey.

The milestone was commemorated with a ribbon cutting on Nov. 18. Attendees and residents were treated to cookies, hot cocoa, coffee and other assorted food items. The mayor of the town of Refugio, Wanda Dukes, did the honors by cutting the ribbon at the front office.

The Texas General Land Office had been given $588 million in Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery funds. These funds help to rebuild or repair a total of 6,000 rental homes.

“After Hurricane Harvey made landfall,” said Brittany Eck, the communications director for disaster recovery at the Texas General Land Office, “the Texas General Land Office began working without congressional representation on funding for recovery.”

Eck is pleased with seeing all their hard work payoff.

“I saw it before the hurricane and then after,” said Dukes. “There’s a big difference. I spent a lot of time over here. I’ve been here so much, someone actually thought I lived here and I’ve seen the great improvement that’s been done for the elderly and the disabled.”

Dukes has only heard positive things from the tenants of the newly renovated apartments. “They all love it and they are happy that these improvements have been made,” Dukes continued. “They just love it.”

Dukes continued by thanking the Texas General Land Office for its work in renovating the apartments.

Jessica Rodriguez, the property manager at the Refugio Elderly Apartments, became property manager after Hurricane Harvey hit. However, as a local to the area, she has seen the way the apartments changed for the better. “How they look now, it’s awesome. It’s a big change and my tenants here are very, very, very happy with what they have now.

Everything is really good over here,” Rodriguez continued. “My tenants tend to come to me if anything is going on and I try to fix what I need to fix right away to make sure that they are safe.”

The tenants are very pleased with the changes to the property. “We are a lot better,” said resident Jack Vaden. “My apartment was really getting run down and needed a lot of stuff done to it. It’s like a new apartment now... I’m really happy with it.”

“These apartments have been here 27 years... and they were a mess,” said resident Barbara Lokey. “They were not pleasant. After they did all the remodeling, they’re new. It’s like brand new apartments.”

“Our manager of this place is doing a great job,” said resident Bill Lokey.

The residents are very happy with their manager as well as the renovations. Barbara Lokey cites that Rodriguez has taken a real interest and cares about her tenants. “We’ve had some real doozies here in 10 years,” she recalled. Vaden also recalls that managers came and went, some good and some not so good. Vaden is happy with Rodriguez as well.

Prior to the renovation, the apartments did not have any ceiling fans. Barbara is pleased with the inclusion of ceiling fans, as the fans have lowered her and Bill’s electric bill by a sizable amount.

“I’m really happy with where I’m at. I plan on staying, as long as Refugio keeps on winning football games,” Vaden joked.

Bill, Barbara and Vaden comment that the neighbors have come together as a sort of family. Dukes also acknowledged that she noticed this during her visit.

“It’s a comfortable place. It’s clean and it’s well taken care of,” said Bill.

Vaden comments that it’s easier to get around the property with the new renovations. Prior to the renovations, Vaden noticed that the sidewalks were in poor shape.

“We were looking to move before they did the remodeling,” said Barbara, “... because we were fed up. Management was something else.”

The renovations are meant to last. The tenants are overall extremely pleased with the renovations and with Rodriguez’s management style.

•mtamez@mysoutex.com•

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