By Chuck O’Donnell – Staff Writer
NUTLEY, NJ — Hurricane Harvey left a path of destruction through Texas and its neighboring states in August 2017. The people of Rockport, Texas, were still trying to put their lives back together when 44 students and leaders from Nutley arrived at the tiny coastal town northwest of Corpus Christi on July 22.
The students, from grades nine to 12, spent a week painting storm-damaged churches, clearing fallen trees and shoveling away debris from once-flooded homes. The extent of the damage stunned the students, who were there representing the Nutley Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “We were driving into Rockport,” said Johnny Luberto, who is going into his senior year. “In the middle of the highway is where they put a lot of debris and garbage from the storm. That kind of hit us. Eleven months later, you don’t see it on the news anymore, but these people are still struggling.
Some of them were still homeless, living without water, electricity.” There were many people in that situation. In fact, Luberto and some of the others struck up a conversation with a woman behind the counter of a local burger joint. Coincidentally, the next day they were assigned to help work on the woman’s house. “She was living in a tent,” Luberto said. “Her house was not intact at all. There was no running water, no electricity, no heat, no nothing. She was homeless, living on her front lawn. It was great that we could help her out. She was on the verge of tears.”