When oilman Scott Hayley saw Hurricane Harvey come ashore in Rockport, Texas, the news hit close to home.
“My family and I are from Rising Star,” he said, “but we used to live in Rockport. The house that we lived in in Rockport, where my son was a newborn — it got completely flattened. We had friends down there trying to pick their lives back up, and I’m out here preparing for dove season and deer season. I got to feeling guilty.”
Hayley decided to help however he could. He approached Full Draw Wild Game Processing in Rising Star about feeding some Rockport residents with meat from a hog hunt, expecting about 10 hogs.
“A couple of Facebook posts were made, and they were spread,” he said. “It just went crazy. We ended up having something like 80 or 100 volunteers that helped us process over 50 animals.”
About a dozen volunteers from Rising Star drove 400 miles to feed first responders, volunteers and locals in need in Port Aransas, Refugio and Rockport soon after the storm. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times captured the results in a much-shared video — the volunteers served about 1,500 pounds of wild game and, when they ran out, made brisket, chili, potato salad and redneck goulash.
On Facebook, Hayley said the volunteers fed around 5,000 people. “This mission will not die here,” he said. “We will be back.”
Now the volunteers have established a Facebook group, called Rising Star’s “Roughnecks and Rednecks,” to coordinate those efforts. The Roughnecks and Rednecks Facebook page describes it as “a group of patriotic Americans who believe the best way to save our country is to help one another when in need.” It’s a poignant message in these divided times, and one that played out in real time when neighbors and volunteers banded together as Harvey devastated Houston and the entire Texas coast.
“As a country, we’re divided. It’s bad,” Hayley said. "This is how you make a difference. When your neighbors are in need, you’re there for them. This is what America’s about. We’re there for one another.”
On Monday Roughnecks and Rednecks announced preliminary plans to return to the coast on its Facebook page. The group wants to help put a new roof on Faith Baptist Church in Aransas Pass, serve food to residents and relief workers in Rockport, perform clean-up operations in Rockport homes and assist with donation distribution.
The group is current accepting volunteers for all those projects. “However many people we get to go down there we will find a way to accommodate,” Hayley said. “Also, we’re doing a lot of preparations on the weekends getting meat ready. We need people that have experience skinning hogs and people that can volunteer to help cook and process these hogs.”
Roughnecks and Rednecks is also looking for sound and stage equipment for a potential hurricane relief benefit concert. Hayley said those interested in volunteering or donating should contact the group on its Facebook page.
“One person can’t do anything, but when a bunch of people get together it can turn into something great,” he said.