South Texas Town, People Recovering Nearly Year After Harvey

Armonie Brown pauses for a second when asked about Hurricane Harvey.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports Brown saw friends and teammates lose their homes and all their belongings, while the school he went to was heavily damaged in the storm that hit last Aug. 25.

But he is positive about the town and his future, and also how he has reconnected and is living with his mother. The recovery is ongoing in Refugio, a town of more than 2,800, and the surrounding county, but the spirit that has helped the town come back is what Brown likes to talk about.

"It was pretty hard going. . It hurt a lot of us and hurt a lot of the community," Brown said. "But we still have pride. We just keep on digging deep and we got through it."

A year ago, Brown's mother, LaVena Williams, was cleaning out a closest in her modest two-bedroom home in Refugio to hunker down for the storm a few months after moving back to the city.

Brown, one of three siblings, was living with his grandmother at the time. Williams decided to stay in town because of an unreliable car; plus, she was unsure that she could afford to evacuate.

On the advice of his grandmother - who lived in a trailer - Brown went to take shelter at the home of teammate Kaleb Wright. There were nearly 20 people staying at the home as the storm approached. Brown's younger brother was with Williams, and his sister was with friends out of town.

Brown said he endured a sleepless night at the house, which suffered major damage when the roof collapsed. When he walked outside the next morning, Brown got ready to go to Raymondville. But he had not been able to reach his mother.

Meanwhile, Williams left her home that same morning, which sustained some damage and had a tree knocked down in her yard. She went by the house Brown was staying at, but nobody was there.

"I didn't know the roof had collapsed, and I went by the house and nobody was there," Williams said.

They reconnected later that day before Brown went to Raymondville.

"It was heartbreaking just to see her -- I loved that she was OK," Brown said.

A year later, Brown has been living with his mother in her two-bedroom house, and he is one of the most recruited football players south of San Antonio. He already has nine NCAA Division I scholarship offers from schools such as Army, Syracuse and the University of Texas-San Antonio. Williams said she has no preference on his choice and only wants him to get out of Refugio and experience other places.

Williams and Brown have always been close, but Williams lived in other cities trying to make a better life for her children while they stayed in other places. She returned to Refugio because "it's home." Recently, Brown, Williams and his younger brother moved into a three-bedroom house in Refugio.

"Of course, Armonie picks the biggest bedroom," Williams said with a laugh.

As Brown has grown into a young man, Williams has seen how he volunteers his time to help others after the storm. And Brown says his mom tells him how proud she is of him every day as he sees his town recovering.

"It's been pretty good and we've been talking a lot about family, trying to get everything together," Brown said. "She says, she's proud of me every day. She loves the person I've (become)."

"I really love the town of Refugio, it's been very good to me," he said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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