So, in my part 1 post about my experience with Hurricane Harvey, we talked about what happened before the hurricane and one of the rescues.
Today, I’m going to write about all the rest of what happened. Hopefully I can keep it a reasonable length so that we can avoid a part 3…
But I talk a lot, sooo… Here we go!
Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way
So I already told you about our first rescue with the family of 6 and the sweet little girl. I’m not going to be listing out every rescue (honestly, there are too many to remember and it would take too long), but I do want to talk about a couple of them that were noteworthy.
One of the first rescues we did (and maybe my timeline is a little off, but it’s not important) was the daughter of a couple that goes to our church.
We were about 30 minutes away from her when I saw on Facebook that her neighborhood had flooded and she wanted out before her house did. I contacted her, we made a game plan, and we headed on our way to rescue her.
Unfortunately, the city had started some construction on the highway prior to Harvey and we had to reroute. Siri wanted to reroute us AN HOUR.
(When you’re dealing with floodwaters, every hour of daylight is necessary. Once it gets dark, you cannot see how deep it is, therefore you cannot rescue.)
An hour was not going to cut it!
We were on the freeway by ourselves (everyone else was at home and NOT driving on the freeway during a hurricane). So we decided to do the unthinkable. Something crazy we would never EVER do in normal circumstances.
We turned around, right there on the highway, and drove the wrong way back towards where we needed to be.
With our orange revolving light (thanks dad) we looked legit and we felt confident that this was the best decision to save time. We drove all the way back to an available exit (what was supposed to be an on ramp) and drove the wrong way down a two lane feeder road until we got to where we needed to turn and start driving the proper way again (on the right side, like an American!)
That was fun!
So as we got closer and closer to her house, the water was rising (it’s still raining by the way) and we drove down to where we saw some boat rescues going on with a local fire department.
We talked to them and told them where we were headed and they told us it was impassable and too dangerous. So I contacted the lady and told her what they told us. I told her that we were still going to look for another way in (where there’s a will and a big truck, there’s a way, right?) and we started scouring the maps for alternate routes.
Eventually we found one! Never give up! We got to her house and took her where she wanted to go, safe and dry.
Local Shelter Rescue
Another notable rescue was when we picked up an older lady that attends our church. Her apartment had flooded and she had previously been rescued by boat and shipped with a busload of others to a local high school shelter.
Needless to say, she wanted out of the shelter as soon as possible. I got a text from another lady in our church about her and we set off towards the high school (about 5 minutes away).
When we got there, I had a sudden realization… I had no earthly idea where she was. I didn’t know what she was wearing or anything!
This shelter was housing what looked like hundreds of people. Let me just give you a description of what I saw.
Piles and piles of assorted donations were stacked on tables in the entry way. People were milling around aimlessly, just to stave off restlessness. Dogs were barking, babies crying, people sleeping on the ground, people camped out in their own little corners of the hallways lined down as far as you could see.
The atmosphere was absolutely miserable, as people were displaced from their homes and, in some cases, separated from their families.
I knew we had to get this lady out, but we still had hundreds and hundreds of people to sort through to find her. Chloe and I walked up and down every hall way, through the lunch room, and down another hallway. She was nowhere to be found.
Losing hope, we decided to try to go down one hallway a second time. On our way down the hallway, we didn’t see her. These hallways are LONG! I was starting to get a little frustrated because I had no phone number or description of her at all. I’d only seen her at church.
Finally, on our way back up that long hallway towards the entrance, I saw her! She was on the phone with my Pastor’s wife. My Pastor’s wife was telling her that I was coming for her and then she said she looked up and heard her name being yelled out (yeah I was yelling because it was loud in there!!).
We finally got her out of that miserable place and took her where she needed to be.
Joining A Convoy
So after the second day of rescuing, we got to the third day. Wow, that sentence was informative…
The third day, no messages came in that morning, but we still wanted to help. So we went out to the fire department by our house and volunteered.
Our first mission with the fire department was to take a fireman to the gas station to get snacks. Totally important mission!!!
After that, we got a call of our own and gave the FD our phone number in case they needed us and we set out to go pick up a family that was staying at our church.
When we got to the road the church is on, it was DEEP. We got to the stop sign where the San Marcos Fire Department and the National Guard were. They told us it was too deep to drive (there is a major creek right off the church property) and so we told them there was a family we needed to pick up from our church. We also told them that our Pastor and his wife were also there and we wanted them to be asked if they wanted rescue as well (which they kept refusing, but it all worked out and they were safe and dry).
The Fire Department guys told us that they were going to have to go the back way around because they couldn’t get in the other direction. So, off goes the Fire Department with their boats and such. Behind them went the National Guard troop carrier, and behind them went us! Joining the convoy!
It took about 45 minutes just to go in a square because with the deep waters, you have to drive really slow. It worked out for us being in the back since we had the troop carrier pushing a lot of water away from our truck, making it easier to drive in.
So 45 minutes later we reach the other side of the road to the church and we go as far as we can. We parked the truck and waited while the boats went in and picked up a family of five. Once we got them, we took them where they needed to go.
Aftermath Demo And A Secret Safe
After the rain stopped, Houston had a decision to make. The dams were about to literally burst and a giant reservoir was overflowing. They ultimately decided to release the dams. This affected thousands of people, but it was the lesser of two evils. Had the dams burst, it would’ve affected WAY more people. But even this way, with a controlled release, it still affected people negatively.
My dad’s coworker was one of these people. She had been trapped in her house for 2 days, staying up on her bed with her cat, watching her house flood and all her belongings destroyed. She lost just about everything, including her car. Eventually she was picked up with her cat and taken somewhere safe.
By the time we were able to get in there, it had been a week and the place was NASTY. We tore out all the sheet rock up to 4 feet, all the carpet, kitchen cabinets, furniture, documents, EVERYTHING, down to the bare bones of the house.
As we were tearing everything out of this house, the pile in the front yard got higher and higher. I started to praise God for sparing our family from this and I prayed for this poor lady who lost 15 years worth of belongings in one week.
We found a lot of normal stuff in that house. Documents, christmas decorations, pictures, clothes, etc. But then my brother and my dad, while tearing out the bathroom, found something odd.
Not just any safe. This safe was built into the foundation and was hiding underneath the carpet in the master closet.
We asked the homeowner about it and she said she knew about it, so we left it alone. Later, at work, she came up to my dad and told him she thought he was talking about a different safe. She had no idea about the secret safe! Now she’s contacting a locksmith and wants to find out what’s in her secret safe we found!
I hope she finds money or something valuable, after all she’s been through!
We also tore everything out of our church as well and found some interesting things!! We found clogs, church robes, and lots of other interesting items in the church closet!
That’s Part 2! Hope you enjoyed reading it!
Working with all the National Guard and Fire Departments was pretty fun and a super rewarding experience for my siblings and me. We loved helping people and getting them to safety.
It was super awesome to see the community come out and help people in their time of need. That’s what Texas is all about!
There IS hope after Harvey. The Lord is using this hurricane to wake people up and get them thinking about what’s most important- Him! Even the media called this a “biblical flood”. People’s lives were lost, and that inevitably gets people thinking about eternity.
My prayer is that God will use this catastrophe to lead people to Himself.
Seek Adventure with Christ,