As soon as the fury of Hurricane Ike departed the Texas coast, San Marcos Superintendent Dr. Patty Shafer telephoned her friend, Dr. Linda Barnhart, the superintendent in Anahuac ISD, to see how she and the district had fared. Miraculously, they made cell phone connection. Shafer could tell by her friend’s voice that the situation was grim in Anahuac. Barnhart had ridden out the storm in a fortified, interior room of one of the school buildings, so that she could watch over the district property. She emerged to find that all of Anahuac ISD’s buildings had been affected. The school district of about 1,400 students is located east of Galveston where the Trinity River meets the Gulf of Mexico. All three campuses sustained damage. The windows of the Anahuac High School library were blown out, and most of the books were destroyed by water. The most heart-breaking news came later when they learned that many of the district’s students and school staff had lost their homes and all of their belongings.
Dr. Shafer assured the Anahuac superintendent that San Marcos CISD would go to work to help. SMCISD began an immediate collection of school and personal supplies and books, and put out pleas to the San Marcos community for contributions. Shafer said, “I wanted San Marcos CISD to help this small district, especially since most of the state resources for recovery will focus on the larger areas first before the smaller towns and districts.”
SMCISD classrooms, clubs, and school organizations started collections, and were soon joined by other community groups such as Texas State University student organizations. Within a couple of weeks, the Central Office was full of boxes bulging with supplies. Shafer and her husband Cecil borrowed a long, cargo van from Region 4 in the Houston area. On October 9, SMCISD maintenance and office personnel worked several hours to pack donations into boxes and the boxes into the van. The vehicle was full to capacity.
The Shafers drove the cargo van to Anahuac on October 10, where they delivered the supplies directly to the schools. Anahuac students were on hand to help unload the van full of books, school supplies, backpacks, toiletries, and non-perishable food. Dr. Shafer also gave over $1,400 to Superintendent Barnhart that had been donated by San Marcos citizens.
“The Anahuac people were so appreciative of our contributions,” Shafer said. “The staff couldn’t stop thanking us, over and over again.”
Shafer says she had a hard time comprehending the amount of damage done to the coastal area. “We visited areas where the houses of the neighborhood were all gone, leaving only the slabs. Many families were living in their front yards in tents and borrowed RVs.”
She went on the report that the Anahuac High School library was completely flooded-books, bookshelves, cabinet work, flooring all destroyed. The gutting of the building was already underway. The roof of the high school gym was partially peeled off, and the vast gym floor had buckled in huge waves as tall as a person.
A second wave of donations was sent to the beleaguered coastal community a week or so later. The Shafers’daughter, who teaches in Flatonia ISD, had called to tell them that her district had also heard of the Anahuac need and had accepted donations for the district.
Superintendent Shafer summed it up for a news reporter covering the collection effort when she said,
“Next time, it could us who needs help. We are all here to support each other in times of need.”
San Marcos CISD staff pitch in to collect supplies: (left to right) Asst. Supt. of Teaching and Learning Yolanda Almendarez, Communications Specialist Linda Contreras, and Lamar Front Office Receptionist Rose Torres. (Others) Boxes of supplies and delivery to Anahuac ISD, October 10