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Road trip of goodwill: Farmington residents build friendship with Port Aransas

Farmington community members traveled south to Port Aransas, along with the truck driver from Wayne Transports in Rosemount. After unloading the truck, the group shared a meal from The Beach Lodge. Pictured are (from left) Ferro and son Mark Pellicci, Karen Evenson, server Shelly, truck driver Rich Klahr, Amy Flom, LeAnna Morgan, Bobbi Bowler and Andrew Erben. Submitted photo

Ferro Pellicci said the road trip of goodwill to Port Aransas was the greatest experience of his lifetime.

The Farmington community adopted Port Aransas, Texas, after the coastal town was torn apart by Hurricane Harvey with high winds, floods and tornadoes that accompanied the tropical storm.

A couple weeks ago, a semi-truck filled with cleaning supplies, lumber, windows, doors and small appliances were transported on a road trip of goodwill.

RELATED: Town filled with gratitude: Port Aransas thankful for Farmington's support

A few Farmington residents decided to drive or fly to meet residents and build relationships with the community of Port Aransas.

Pellicci patriarchs

After the celebratory send-off in the Pellicci Ace parking lot, the two patriarchs, Mark and Ferro Pellicci were inspired. In fact, the father and son decided to take an impromptu road trip south to visit Port Aransas.

Both men believed they could use their carpentry, electrical and mechanical expertise to assist residents with the rebuilding effort.

"In my 77 years, this is by far the greatest experience I have ever had, and I think it was pretty emotional for everyone because when we got there and unloaded there were 40 some people waiting for the truck and when he pulled up they were waving and cheering," said Ferro Pellicci.

When Rosemount's Wayne Transports semi-truck driver Rich Klahr drove into the residential neighborhood, this was a welcoming celebration with happy tears and joyful smiles.

"I had a hard time because 40 people were lined up and each one gave me a hug, and it was tough and I heard 'God bless you,' so it was very emotional and I thought, Boy, I am not used to this," Ferro said, smiling.

Mark Pellicci said Port Aransas residents were grateful and gracious, and the experience was "fantastic."

"The city has regulations, the county has regulations and the state has its own, and the U.S. government holds other regulations," Mark Pellicci said. "The problem is the insurance companies are battling each other, and so they are waiting for money and nobody wants to pay so they are not able to do anything."

Both father and son plan to make a return trip to Port Aransas in the next few months.

Grant Beyl's company Thrivent Financial in Farmington and the board of directors decided to donate $10,000 of seed money to get the Drop in the Bucket effort off the ground. Funds were used to buy many things big and small like lumber, power tools and small appliances.

"It has been a fabulous community effort bringing the businesses, the town, the churches and schools together and they all did a fantastic job," Beyl said.

As one of the organizers, Amy Flom of Thrivent traveled to Port Aransas.

"When you send stuff it means something, but when you send people and you can help them grieve, and just talk and pray with them and it means a lot to them and I really got to learn what their needs are and what their strengths are and you build a mutual respect," Flom said.

Flom shared a story of a woman who had lost her car in the hurricane and her husband lost his tools in the storm.

"He had spent his life building a tool collection," Flom said.

The woman was able to select a tool to take home and she was grateful to have something as small as a hammer.

"She said, 'I can't wait to see the look in my husband's eyes because he would love to have his own tool,'" Flom said.

Strong spirits

Residents in Port Aransas seemed to be strong in spirit, according to the Rev. Karen Evenson, pastor at Faith Methodist Church in Farmington. Evenson was one of the pastors who led the initiative along with the Rev. Andy Herzberg of Trinity Lutheran Church in Farmington.

After a flight to Texas, Evenson drove down to the area and then caught a five-minute ferry boat to arrive on the coastal island town of Port Aransas.

"People's spirits are strong in some ways and the community is starting to come together, and efforts like this really help because it lets the residents know that people care about them and they are not alone and it is not a one-time thing," Evenson said. "By some of us going down there and getting to know their names and faces and dreams, it helps to sustain spirits because some people are just so tired because every day they are dealing with more to do and more to cleanup."

In the town of nearly 4,000, Evenson said only about 498 households qualified for housing assistance and many were living in RV homes, hotels or living in a home without furniture or belongings.

To get engaged in giving back, follow Farmington Community Disaster Response on Facebook or Rebuild Port Aransas Texas, also on Facebook.

"Farmington, by choice, is showing itself to Port Aransas and who we are and that we care, and what we can do by saying, 'We see you and we hear you,' but Port Aransas did not get that choice because the storm and the hurricane took their insides and pulled them out," Evenson said.