Hurricane Harvey: 7 Inspiring Stories from Houston

These seven rescue stories prove that even when a disaster like Hurricane Harvey strikes, people can band together. 


A family is evacuated from its home after severe flooding following Hurricane Harvey in north Houston

Texas has been left devastated after Hurricane Harvey dropped a torrential amount of rain, flooding big cities like Houston and forcing tens of thousands of residents to seek shelter. Despite many national organizations and charities sending aid (you can find a list of where to donate here), local rescue crews who have reported saving over 13,000 people at this point, still need help. That’s where these Good Samaritans come in.  

These eight rescue stories prove that even when disaster strikes, people can band together. 

1. A SWAT Rescue

One story that’s been making headlines is that of Cathy Pham, a young mother stranded with her one-year-old son and husband in a loft in their Houston home after their first floor flooded. Pham’s husband flagged down Houston SWAT members and civilian volunteers after kayaking up the street to look for help. The Dallas Morning News' photo of Pham and her sleeping son being rescued by Houston SWAT Team member Daryl Hudeck has since gone viral.

"We were just so grateful because I don't know if we hadn't ran into them and seen them, I don't know how long I would've been up there, like how long it would've taken for somebody to find us,'' Pham told TODAY


2. Mattress Mack 

Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, a local businessman and owner of Houston-based furniture store, opened up two of his locations to people in need. As flooding began forcing people out of their homes, McIngvale took to social media to share a video offering food and shelter at the store. “We’ve got lots of beds, we’ve got lots of food, we’ve got lots of water and you can even bring your animals,” he said.

People listened. Over 300 Houstonians showed up to each Gallery Furniture store. While one has reached capacity, the other is still taking evacuees. This isn’t the first time McIngvale has opened his doors for a good cause. He offered his store as a shelter when Katrina hit 12 years ago. His daughter shared a photo on Facebook, praising her dad’s generosity and compassion. 

3. A Sheriff's Duty

Another touching moment came when Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Rick Johnson was photographed carrying two children to safety as waters continued to rise in Cypress, Texas. Johnson was going around the neighborhood, checking to see if anyone needed assistance when he offered to carry the young boy and girl while their parents gathered important personal items from their home before fleeing to safety.

Johnson is a military veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and has four children of his own, something that made helping these kids a no-brainer. "There's a person in need,'' he told TODAY.  "I have the means to help you. I'm here to help you. Let's go and make this happen. That's what it was." 


4. Airboat Patrol 

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Shardea Harrison and her three week old baby were rescued from their rapidly flooding home by Dean Mize and Jason Legnon, two friends who patrolled the neighborhood on an airboat. 


5. A Live Rescue 

A CNN reporter in Dickinson, Texas was broadcasting live on the devastating damage from Hurricane Harvey when he was alerted that an elderly couple was trapped inside their home. With a little help, he was able to get them safely onboard his boat and to dry land. 


6. Out of State

A local reporter from Arkansas shared coverage on Twitter of residents heading to Texas to help in any way they can. One video shows a line of cars with boats attached heading to areas hit by heavy rains while another features a man gassing up his truck, preparing to rescue as many people as possible from the floods. 

7. The Cajun Navy 

The Cajun Navy, volunteer online grass-roots effort working with the “Cajun Coast Search and Rescue Team,” took their boats from Louisiana to Texas to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey. The army of private boats came after first responders in Texas asked for help from anyone who knew how to operate a boat and could assist in saving victims of the floods. Cajun Navy member Benji Terro and his cousin Todd Gaspard said they rode for four hours through flooded neighborhoods helping people floating on air mattresses with their belonging in trash bags. 

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