REFUGIO – Wind swirling around the house, roaring all the while, noises coming from broken things? Betty “Bebe” Castellano remembers it well, but she really doesn’t like to think about that night when Hurricane Harvey sat on top of Refugio County – Aug. 25, 2017.
“Yes, we were up all night. I was with my 93-year-old mother and my son’s family in my son’s house,” Castellano said.
“I was scared to death,” she said.
“The storm was awful ... really upsetting. I will never forget it. I don’t like to think about it,” she said.
Castellano had to be convinced to leave her house about a block away to stay with her son’s family and her mother, but she relented and went.
The morning when the hurricane subsided, Castellano emerged from her son’s house to see just what the hurricane did.
“It was unbelievable what I saw. I said, ‘Oh my God! Oh my God!’” she said.
She ventured down to her house the next day and was relieved to see that it was still standing.
“But it was all torn up inside. There was water everywhere and a hole in the living room roof,” she said.
Then two travel trailers with volunteers pulled up in front of her home, and the roof was fixed by the end of the week.
“But the mold was awful. My son warned me I would get sick,” she said.
But Castellano couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her home, so she stayed in her house.
“I never moved out until I got approved for my new house,” she said.
The Texas General Land Office through its Homeowner Assistance Program demolished Castellano’s old home and built her a new one at the same spot on 202 Swift St.
The dedication was Wednesday, Aug. 7, when the keys to the new home were presented to Castellano.
She said she had lived in a trailer for nine weeks while the house was constructed by Stonewater Construction.
“I’m use to being alone,” she said, explaining why she did not stay with family.
Brittany Eck of the General Land Office said 182 houses have been approved in Refugio County – some are in the process of applying, some are under construction or finished.
Of the 2,056 applications in the Coastal Bend, 300 are under construction or completed, Eck said.
After spending the night in her new home, on Friday she said she awoke and walked around inside.
“It was awesome. I walked around. I really appreciated it. It is unbelievable,” she said.
She said she had been turned down twice before her application for a new house went through.
“Third time is a charm,” she said.
Tim Delaney is the Refugio editor at the Advance-Guard Press and can be reached at 361-526-2397, or at refugio@mySouTex.com.