Men for Others: Hurricane Harvey Flood Relief
Thomas Cade Edwards ‘18
Co-Editors-in-Chief Nick Figueroa ‘18 and John Hornung ‘18 also contributed to this article.
We could hear the screams resonating among the inundated neighborhoods. It was nine in the morning, and the water had already risen above people’s fences. Hurricane Harvey dealt a deafening blow to Meyerland, which regularly floods.
As we loaded ourselves into the Conner family’s small boat, we had a premonition about the welfare of the people in the surrounding neighborhood. We motored towards the muffled screams that we could hear even over the drone of low-flying helicopters from the U.S Coast Guard and U.S Army. Families in every direction yelled and waved their hands in desperation, and we approached them with open arms. Declan Conner (‘21) commandeered the skiff while Liam Conner (‘18), Richard Dickason (‘18), and I jumped off the boa the into chest-deep water to help a family with two toddlers onto the boat: it was our first rescue of the day.
Dodging overhanging branches and sunken cars, we navigated down streets that we had once walked on. It was a truly dismal image to see people’s homes almost completely submerged in water. We swiftly transported all of the evacuees atop our skiff and nine feet of water to the neighborhood Kroger. From there other individuals were being transported to the George R. Brown Convention Center to find a warm home that night. First responders waded through chest-deep water alongside kayaks and measly inflatable pool toys in an effort to help people trapped in their homes. We turned down every street corner and always seemed to find someone who needed a helping hand. We loaded entire families onto the small, four-person skiff. We managed to help families with small children, dogs, and even a hutch of rabbits that had been abandoned in the fast-flowing water.
Two men who happened to work for the City of Houston had been driving a dump truck down the street to rescue flood victims in the immediate vicinity. Unfortunately, the truck eventually stalled out in the high water, and they had been waiting for help for at least two hours. Neither of them knew how to swim. These two men were bobbing up and down while clinging to tree branches because of the swift current–we were now rescuing the rescuers. They thanked us as we loaded them onto the small boat.
We had saved over fifty people, children, and helpless animals that afternoon. A photojournalist from the Houston Chronicle eventually joined us on our precarious venture to offer a helping hand. He began to take photos of us, sharing our efforts with the world online. Shortly we received no shortage of commendations for our efforts from our friends and family and from thousands of strangers on social media via Twitter.
That day there were countless people all over the city depending on help from strangers. According to the Washington Post, Harvey has unloaded nine trillion gallons of water on Houston. Additionally, according to CNBC, over 9,000 people are seeking refuge from the floods at George R. Brown Convention Center alone. Without rescue efforts like ours, many people would have been stranded in attics and on rooftops until either the National Guard or Coast Guard arrived. The people we encountered were incredulous to see four high school students leading a rescue effort, yet they found solace that help had arrived.
This event has caused us to realize how vital it is to take the initiative to help others during a crisis. In times of national disasters, all differences, political, socioeconomic, or racial, do not matter. What matters is helping our family and neighbors who truly need it. While this flood was incredibly catastrophic, it demonstrated to me how valuable life is and how important it is for communities to come together in pursuit of a common goal. Despite being exhausted by our efforts, the needs of the men and women we saw that day prompted us to always live as Men for Others.