EDITORIAL — Cruz sees, we know: PA is ‘Texas tough’

Published 12:11 am Saturday, August 31, 2019

Dawn broke on a different Texas Coast on Thursday.

Sure enough, rain threatened but only for minutes, not for the days that it pelted Mid and South County in August two years back.

It was an annoyance, sure, but not a threat. Not a real one. Around here, we know about the real deal for flooding. We know what 60 inches of downpour looks like.

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What the wind blew in was Ted Cruz, our state’s junior senator, and for him it was a bittersweet memory. He’d stopped by two years ago at Staff Sgt. Lucian Adams Elementary School in Port Arthur, which was flooded by Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey in 2017. It took extraordinary measures for students to finish their 2017-18 school year, but they and their administration, staff and teachers managed the situation with some aplomb.

“I was here right after Hurricane Harvey. I saw a school that was flooded — it was virtually the entire school. They had to rip up the sheetrock, start over and spend a year rebuilding this school,” he said.

“It’s exciting to see a brand new school. They have brand new computers, a new library, etc. and I can see the joy and life in the kids.”

Of course, we’ve seen that joy all along, not only Thursday but for the past two years. That joy was evident because Port Arthur ISD took good care of our children, whose 2017-18 school year became a pilgrimage of sorts.

Pre-K through second-grade students attended Booker T. Washington Elementary; third-through-fifth graders attended Dick Dowling Elementary School. Both of those campuses are in Port Arthur.

Back then, principal Cheryl Tripplett assured parents and students that no matter their location, the students would get excellent instruction and loving care. That was true.

“It’s not the building, the physical building, that makes the difference,” Tripplett said. “It’s the teachers that come to school each day. I know those same, caring teachers will be at Booker T. and Dowling. It’s the people that give your children the best education they can get.”

Adams students spent a long year out of their building, but proved themselves steadfast and resilient in the face of hardship. The building’s walls, floors and roof needed repair and replacement. But most Adams students returned to their school for 2018-19.

Cruz saw many of those children this week. He remarked on their capacity to recover, to stare down adversity and overcome it. He encouraged them to stay strong.

“There was no community that was hit as hard as Port Arthur was, and yet this community came together with a spirit of love and a spirit of compassion,” he said.

Indeed it did, not just at Adams Elementary but everywhere.

Recovered? Not hardly. But on the right road.