By Eric Dehm
Much of the press coverage surrounding Hurricane Harvey focused on Houston, which makes sense. It is the 4th largest city in the country, so the eye of the media is naturally going to be drawn to the population hub of a region affected by natural disaster.
That being said, there are amazing stories coming out of the smaller towns in the area. Take the small town of Woodsboro, Texas (pop. 1500) for example. About 175 miles southwest of Houston, near the Gulf of Mexico coast, Woodsboro was decimated during Hurricane Harvey.
As luck would have it, a Texas state trooper, who happened to be a veteran, saw the 19 vehicle convoy of the Harvey recovery team from military-themed clothing company Grunt Style in the early morning hours. They were passing through the area on their way to another destination when the Trooper asked them if they would take a detour to follow him and check out Woodsboro.
Dan Alarik, founder of Grunt Style, couldn’t believe what he saw in the town even after seeing what Harvey did to Houston. He says the damage to the town was so severe that it reminded him of a specific deployment during his time in the Army.
“I spent nearly two years in the Balkans well over a decade ago,” Alarik tells ConnectingVets.” A lot of the damage and devastation reminded me of that, without all the bullet holes. You just had buildings flattened. One building would be semi-standing, the next flattened. Fifty percent of all the houses have been condemned as unusable. That’s what it looked like. It’s a different world, it’s almost like a third world country.”
Once his team took in the scene, they decided to change their plans. They would set up their new home-base for recovery efforts in Woodsboro.
Alarik says he met with the mayor that morning and told her he wanted to set up shop, offering to pay cash for a storefront that they could use and hiring a few town residents to help out.
The mayor took the team to a building that Alarik described as having been wounded by time before Harvey finished the job.
The building had functioned as the town’s community center, offering free child care for families during weekdays. Now, it was unusable and while no one in Woodsboro has the funds to fix it, Grunt Style does.
“We decided to make our new mission rebuilding it and making it the best building in town,” Alarik says.
“Do it quickly and then we’re going to run all of our missions out of there. So we still support all the local towns, but everything is run out of that place. We’re giving this town the attention that it needs.”
They’ve since hired a contractor, who is also a veteran, to begin fixing the building and expect construction to begin soon and be completed within the next few months.
In the meantime, Grunt Style is using s portion of the building as their staging area
In addition, Alarik says the team quickly realized they could help out all of the residents on a basic need level.
Many residents had lost everything, including their clothes.
So Grunt Style immediately donated thousands of their shirts to the local population.
Alarik says all of this effort that has been warmly received by the people of Woodsboro.
And checking the Grunt Style Facebook page, you can see local residents expressing gratitude in various ways.
The message from Cristina Nicole and her family, accompanied by a photo of her family decked out in Grunt Style gear seems to sum up the feelings those who live in Woodsboro: