Local vet trying to gather Valley’s help to rebuild from Hurricane Harvey

HARLINGEN — Veteran Star Locke’s Port Aransas house and business were destroyed by Hurricane Harvey last month.

Right now, he has nothing but a desire to help and make sure the smaller areas of the Coastal Bend are rebuilt.

That’s why he wants to mobilize what he is calling the Veterans Valley Workforce, an army of folks from the area who are skilled and in need of work.

He isn’t just trying to recruit a few, he’s looking for 10,000 people. And he was down here in the Valley, in his former home of Harlingen to find those people.

Locke, a homebuilder in Port Aransas, said prior to Harvey, there already was a shortage of construction personnel. He said construction and building jobs were waiting months for crews.

It’s only going to get worse now with all the construction needs.

“It is not going to be possible to do this without Valley workers,” Locke said about rebuilding his communities.

Locke anticipates billions of dollars in aid and insurance funds available for building in the area and said it would be great for the Valley and its residents to have a chance at some of that through employment.

“There’s quite a few people looking for good jobs,” he said about those in Harlingen.

Carpenters and other skilled construction workers are at a premium for this work.

“The Valley is full of extremely hard working, God fearing people,” Locke said.

Once he decided on his plan, Locke contacted Harlingen American Legion Commander Eddie Villafranca to join in the efforts and come together to help.

“It would be a Godsend to the Valley to be able to bring this money back,” Locke said. “It is a great opportunity for the Valley to come together. The Valley is a very powerful place.”

Villafranca said it would benefit many people in the Valley if they went up there to work and were able to bring the money back to the Valley.

“I am positive about what he is doing and will back him up,” Villafranca said.

Locke and Villafranca said people have been coming in daily to take the applications. Some are even filling it out right at the Legion Hall. It isn’t only for veterans, anyone can apply.

“His goal is to rebuild the destruction that was left behind,” Villafranca said about Locke. “But he wanted to come to the Valley to get people who could use money to spend it back here in the Valley and that will help everybody actually.”

Once applications are filled out, they will be kept at the Legion Hall until Locke can come and pick them up. He currently is back and forth between the Valley and his home.

The Legion Hall also will be the base from where Locke will work out of to take people up to the construction areas.

Although anyone is welcome to apply, Locke is hoping for help from his people.

“The veterans will be part of this and I ask them to get in the fight,” Locke said. “We need an army from the Valley.”

How to apply

Applications can be obtained at the American Legion Hall, 504 American Legion Drive in Harlingen. People have been filling out the help wanted forms right at the legion hall.

The questions include:

* Job skills

* Name, phone and E-mail

* Trade skills

* Pay rate expected

* 3 references

* Tools and equipment available