Natural disasters bring out the worst of Mother Nature but the best of humanity.
Hurricane Harvey is no exception.
The massive storm made landfall in Texas on Aug. 25, inundating the Houston metro area with record-breaking floodwaters and high winds. To avoid chaos on the highways, there was no mass evacuation order for the city’s 2.3 million residents. But most homes and buildings were no match for the unprecedented storm.
Local first responders and the Coast Guard are working around the clock to rescue people from roofs and attics as the waters rise. But their numbers and resources, particularly those of the aquatic variety, are limited.
Thankfully, there are ordinary heroes among us too.
These are the people who aren’t afraid to step up and lend a hand, even in the face of danger or uncertainty. Here are 11 of their stories.
1. Abe Minor planned to rescue his friends. Soon, he was rescuing dozens more.
Once his friends were safe, Minor kept going, rescuing as many as 20 different people and their pets. And he’s going back out today.
2. Cole Geeo put his monster truck to good use and went out to help.
Geeo saw the coverage on the news and knew he (and his 8-foot-tall truck) could be of assistance. Using a few ladders, Geeo was able to help his neighbor Deborah Wright get down from her second floor and into his truck.
“That’s a redneck rescue, I do believe,” Wright’s coworker Dina Young Gray told local ABC affiliate WFAA.
3. Even 15-year-old Declan took to the water to help his neighbors in the Meyerland area of Houston.
Way to go, Declan!
4. These men waded into waist-deep water to help a stranger clinging tight to a road sign.
They used a refrigerator as a float to get to the man, then created a human chain to get through the rushing water.
5. This preacher went door-to-door to make sure nobody was stranded in these submerged cars.
When it was time to step up, he put his values into action.
6. Animals are in dire need, too. That’s why Alicia Plunkett did her part to keep Houston’s bats from drowning.
It may sound small, but in the wake of the storm and standing water, the region will be be inundated with mosquitos and the diseases they carry. Bats can assist with that problem, but only if they’re alive to help.
7. Storm tracker Aaron Jayjack found a lost dog. And his story has a yappy, er, happy ending.
Jayjack stopped for gas, and the sweet pup jumped into his car. Jayjack used social media to help find the dog’s owner, and the pair was reunited.
9. And CNN correspondent Ed Lavandera joined local college student Austin Seth on his civilian search-and-rescue mission.
Lavandera continued to report the story while rescuing families and helping them into Seth’s flatboat.
10. As a thank you to the reporters covering the storm and its aftermath, this woman delivered a six-pack on air.
It may not be strictly heroic, but in a weekend full of hardship, uncertainty, and tragedy, a little levity can go a long way.
11. Once people are rescued, they need a place to go. This screenwriter stepped up to run a shelter.
When the community of Rockport opened a shelter at an elementary school but didn’t leave anyone in charge, screenwriter Zachary Dearing stepped up to the challenge. With no emergency response training, he took stock of the situation and recruited volunteers to help people get resources and organize visitors. Bravo!
Whether you’re driving a flatboat around Houston picking up strangers or sending money from Seattle, there are plenty of ways to help communities devastated by this storm.
You don’t need a cape or even a uniform to be a hero, just a willingness to lend a hand. Here are a few places to start.
Because near or far, when natural disasters happen, we’re in this together. Thanks to everyone doing their part.
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