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Park County Community Journal

 

A Livingston Montana newspaper dedicated to serving the
Park County Montana Community

 

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Heroes, Heart Warriors, and just plain folks

by Joyce Johnson

The Great Fall - Part One: Flying by Joyce Johnson

Raelyn Wood, my former (but forever) BigBrotherBigSister little sister, and her family are presently living in hurricane Harvey’s aftermath, in Rockport, Texas, but she was ‘present’ enough to look up and beyond the scene, and share the post many of us loved of an image of Montana on fire, and Texas under water with the caption something like, “Through hell or high water, we stand by each other.” Today, Sept. 8, we have severe earth, air, fire and water storm disasters all over North America—but heroes and hope promoters are all over the place too. It feels like the American hero element is, I dare say, impressively contradicting the ‘destroyer’ elements everywhere right now. Our officials at Montana wildfire areas are even overwhelmed at the donations like 375 truckloads of hay and miles of fencing materials. Hold the sunscreen please, said one reporter.

The Wood family are natives of Livingston. Bob and his brother Dick were and still are active in hero/rescue jobs that you never really retire from—character that is I tend to endlessly repeat—very strong in our country right now. Dick Wood is a former Livingston Fire Department Captain. Bob was a Volunteer Fireman for many years.

Kelli Knupp, Bob’s wife, has a Nursing degree, and MA in Legal studies, and is presently in the field of Law. Bob managed Ace Hardware here in Livingston for years and Kelli and Bob combined their children into one big fun family and the 5 kids went to Park High.

Then Bob became an Ace Regional Manager and moved the family to Rockport, Texas and they bought a house. But back up a bit. Many locals and teachers will remember these kids so I’ll update with the youngest first: Raelyn is now in restaurant management, and has 2 little girls. Bob’s son Robby is a junior engineering student; Rachal, the oldest daughter is happily married. Kelli’s sons: Taylor has a BSc in biology/animal science, and Greg is V.P. of a bank, studying for an accounting/CPA degree, and has 2 boys.

Bob and Kelli Wood stayed for the Hurricane – inside the Ace Hardware Store in Rockport, because the store was so busy serving locals who had to or chose to stay and needed supplies.

The following are Kelli’s short comments on Face Book, from Ace Hardware beginning around 9 p.m. Aug 25, the night Harvey went Cat 4 directly over Rockport, Texas:

“We are in the hardware store—safe at the moment.” An hour or two later: “Kind of scary at the moment.”

(Communication) then stopped and no word for a day or two which greatly worried friends and family.) And then, “We are safe house is gone.” And later, “...homeless but safe – gonna be a long ride.” A post next day: “Rough ride, can definitely use prayers. Looks like war zone here- trying to locate anything we can and hubby working on the store. Never seen anything like this!” And this heart squeezer: “cannot find a place to stay...”

With Kelli’s permission, I share here the gushing flow of gratitude posted some days later on Sunday Sept. 3: “Update: salvaged a few personal things from rubble (even some special things).

Adjuster not out yet. Bob’s ACE Hardware store crew in from corporate and working diligently. Port Lavaca store faired well. Found house to rent 20 miles away, but closer to my office. Too many people to thank! My team at the law firm, Herrman & Herrman, entirely filled my house with EVERYTHING we need and more!!!!! My oldest son managed to contact one of his clients to not only rent this house which was actually for sale, but will also be the one who will find our “forever” home which we were planning on doing in the next 6 months anyway.

Same guy is gonna buy our property with remains on it and all!! My oldest Greg has worked miracles to make this happen, as well as being there with his beautiful family. My son Robby has busted his ass at the store, and my son, Taylor, busted his for me with salvaging as much as possible. Surreal Overwhelming Humbling. To witness the out pouring of love and efforts in the community is beyond words! Free food, free hot meals, free anything you can imagine, military, crews from all over. One day at a time, and look for positive continuously, and you will find PLENTY! If this helps restore loving, helping and supporting one another as one without care of race, creed or religion, and demonstrates that in unity anything can be accomplished, then it is worth it! Really puts the saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff” into perspective! Sorry in advance for any auto correct goofs, as this is being typed on my phone. All is good. Thank you for everything and allowing me to vent! Phew! We are blessed – now on to help others, as well as get back to my awesome team at work (which I don’t think will stress me out half as much as it used to)"

We the People. As of today Sept. 9, Ace Hardware, Rockport, has a Job Fair going on hoping to inform locals of work needed in the community for those jobs that were blown away, and to restaff businesses temporarily and/or permanently.