ROCKPORT, Texas (FOX 26) - The southeast Texas coastal cities of Rockport and Fulton, in Aransas County, experienced the full force of Hurricane Harvey's winds, sustained at 140 mph and greater for several hours. The eye of the storm moved right through the sister cities in Aransas County, killing one person and wrecking thousands of lives.
The cleanup is ongoing and leaders estimate it could be a decade before the damage from Harvey is undone.
One year later, businesses owners all over the county continue the work to reopen.
"It's more than coffee. It's, I don't know, I'm going to cry," said an emotional Michell McMahon, who owns the Daily Grind coffee shop in Rockport.
Located just off Austin Street in Rockport, McMahon and her daughter have been pouring coffee, and their lives, for visitors to their shop.
"They're my extended family," said McMahon. But on August 25, 2017, the town where McMahon calls home was hit by one of Mother Nature's most destructive forces, known to us as Hurricane Harvey.
"I'm looking at concrete that's on the ground, the post, the roof, everything is just tumbled inside in there," described McMahon. She quickly realized her normal business hours had suddenly turned into round-the-clock cleanup. It was a rough reality for the nearly 1,300 businesses and 18,000 structures damaged in Aransas County by this one storm.
But for McMahon, her door was closed for only seven months. She opened back up in March and her new space, although smaller, is a constant reminder of why she is open today.
"This tree that's on the wall is my tree of love," said McMahon as she was pointing to a painted mural. "And there are still names to be added to that tree that helped us get rebuilt and get back inside."
Another business working to get people back inside is The Lighthouse Inn.
"It's been tough on everybody," said James "Rocky" Reese, founder of Live Oak Lodging. The Lighthouse Inn was Reese's first hotel to open in 2003.
"These hurricanes, they're different," said Reese. "They're very large and it's a lot of wind and it lasts a long time."
78 rooms remain vacant at The Lighthouse Inn at Aransas Bay. The hotel has remained closed since Harvey ravaged the coast. The focus now, one year later, is to open soon. Reese hopes that date is Oct. 1.
"Since the storm, the fishing, I understand, has been great," said Reese. "I haven't wet a hook down here, but I understand it's been great."
Even country music legend George Strait is asking people to return to Rockport, through a recently-released commercial showcasing the coastal communities. The economy in Aransas County is highly-dependent on tourism dollars and could be recovering for the next decade.
"It'll be different. It's never going to be the same. It's going to be different," said Diane Probst, president and chief executive officer of the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce. "But are we going to do our darnedest to make it better? Oh yeah. It'll be better, I promise you."
Back at the coffee shop, a message now stenciled reminds patrons that life is a journey, not a destination.
"Come back, it's a great place to be," said McMahon.