BEYOND THE STORM — One person’s story: Chamber president goes full circle with Harvey

Published 6:17 pm Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Bill McCoy, president of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce, said after his experience with Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey, he never wants to live in an apartment again.

He and his wife were driven from their home by floodwaters. After staying temporarily in a motel they had to find someplace more permanent while their home was being repaired.

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McCoy remembered there were some vacancies at Seahawk Landing, Lamar Student Housing Apartments. He applied with ITEX, the apartment owner, and paid rent like everyone else. There were also first-responders and professors from Lamar State College Port Arthur staying at Seahawk Landing.

“The dorms were quiet and peaceful for the most part, but I don’t want to live in an apartment. You have to share the parking lot and occasionally there’s a loud party. There was some trash left outside. The apartments and the halls themselves are fairly clean. The police visited now and then for loiterers.

“It snowed twice and the fog would roll in. I was on the third floor and you would see a ship going down the channel taller than the building I was in. Downtown Port Arthur is safe. The apartments were comfortable. We had a kitchen. No one was rude to us, but you’re isolated.”

He said it’s almost not part of the rest of the city. Plus, he had to drive at least to Seventh Street to eat at Judice’s and a “pretty good distance” to find a grocery store or a fast food restaurant. McCoy ate breakfast and lunch at Edith’s restaurant downtown.

Meanwhile, the McCoys had to replace 44 years of belongings lost to the flood. Orbital was hired as a contractor for sheetrock work and lugging heavy furniture.

“We’ve moved back into our house on March 7, though it’s not completely done. We’re waiting on the new front doors, glass doors for the shower, glass shelves and shelves for the garage,” he said. “We’re also waiting on the couch and living room furniture, my writing desk and a chest of drawers for the second bedroom. We have new appliances.”

Though Harvey hit several months ago, he said he’s amazed some people are still traumatized by rising water.

“For six months we were somebody else,” McCoy said. “We’ve been married for 44 years and a flood hit. All of a sudden our little slice of life was transported back to where we first started.

“My wife made the apartment a home. So we were on pause. We’re blessed to more than we’re entitled to. We have good health, a great family. So we’re back to where we were. It’s a side note.”

McCoy likened this episode of his life to a friend of his growing up who served in Vietnam. Upon returning stateside, his friend said that chapter of his life was over, he could either dwell on it or move on. Likewise, McCoy said he can either worry every time it rains or deal with it.

“Am I going to let it control me? No. You’ve got your choice. Everyone is not as emotionally strong as everyone else. But you can’t judge them as weak either,” he said.

This story appeared in Volume 3 of The Port Arthur News Profile, April 22, 2018