CommunityVeterans In Focus


Domino effect of damage caused by Harvey cripples American Legion's fundaising efforts

Posted at 1:01 PM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 19:51:44-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A local American Legion post damaged by Hurricane Harvey has other troubles, which prevent it from earning the money it needs for repairs.

Post 364 on Kostoryz Road has a banquet hall that was booked just about every Saturday night. That was before three of the post's four 15-ton air-conditioning units went out. Without A/C, the post can't rent the hall, which means roof repairs are impossible to pay for.

Recent rains exacerbated the roof damage, estimated in 2017 to cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix. Now, it's only getting worse.

"We had to put garbage cans all over the hall, in the back, and in here just to catch the rain that was coming through, leaking" said Henry Pena, the post's commander.

Pena said the post applied for disaster assistance "through a loan or through a grant" offered by the city shortly after the hurricane, but never received any money.

"We qualified, but there wasn't any money left for us to have," said Pena.

The leaky roof creates other concerns.

"That roof, when it leaks, (water) goes into circuitry, blows fuses, and really hurts the other systems we have running," said Post 364 2nd Vice Commander George Sandor.

Sandor has been a member of Post 364 for the last 10 years, but spent a lot of time away from the area flying WWII aircraft to museums. When he attended a recent event at the post, he saw what needed to be done.

"We want to push to get this thing moving again, the way it should be," said Sandor.

Both say it starts with the hall, which Pena calls the post's "breadwinner."

"When we can't rent it out, there's no source of income coming in," said Pena.

The hole in the hall's ceiling was opened by the early July storms. The A/C issues have been around longer. Pena hoped when VFW Post 2397 had its A/C replaced, the old compressors would work on his unit, but they were too small. That left Post 364 back at square one, with a leaky roof and just enough A/C to cover the lounge.

"We don't have the money to do either," said Pena.

Not having the ability to make money doesn't just hurt Post 364, it hurts the post's members, who span every conflict from WWII to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"This is their home away from home," said Sandor. "We're here to help them. It's all for the veterans."

It also hurts the students for whom the post provides scholarships.

"Right now we don't have the money, and we've got to have the money to help our younger generation," said Sandor. "That's what it's all about."

Both Pena and Sandor say if the post can get the hall up-and-running, it can take care of the other repairs it needs, like to the post's bus and its fence, which was hit by a drunk driver. Their eventual goal is to replace the WWII-era barracks building with a new building on the other side of the property.