Citizens and law enforcement alike in Houston are coming to the rescue of fellow citizens affected by the flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey.
“My friends and I we were in pretty good shape as far as our houses, so we just wanted to go out and help other people, so that’s what we ended up doing,” Michael Montalbano, 34, of Houston told The Daily Signal.
“We just hooked up our boats, made friends, and started getting out there and helping people.”
On Monday, The Washington Post estimated that “at least eight people appear to have died as a result of the storm battering the state.”
- Citizens Rescuing Those Stranded
Montalbano, whose home is not flooded, is rescuing people in the subdivision of Meyerland, in southwest Houston.
“Everybody was called for help,” Montalbano said, adding:
The water rose up very quickly … So me, a couple of my buddies got together yesterday … so we started helping them out with trucks. And then we got boats and we started pulling people out.
Montalbano, who said his phone reception was bad because even his phone was wet, told The Daily Signal he has lost count of the number of people he and his friends have been able to rescue.
“It started out with two people there and then we just started taking on as many people as we could fit in the boat,” Montalbano said. “We rescued some dogs, elderly people, kids, everybody.”
People are grateful, he said.
“Some of these people have been 24 hours stranded and they were just happy to see anybody helping them out,” Montalbano said, adding:
Some of them are neighbors, some of them are complete strangers, some of them are loved ones, we didn’t know. We took the worst cases first and went from there.
- Law Enforcement Helping With Rescue Efforts
Jocelyn George is a patrol deputy for the Harris County Constable’s Office Precinct 5 in Houston, which has approximately 400 officers covering the west side of Harris County and Houston, a land area that includes about 1.2 million residents.
George, 42, helped rescue an elderly man with a co-worker, Cpl. David Alaniz.
“We were able to acquire a canoe from one of the residents,” George told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “They let us borrow it so … we were able to take it into the apartments where he was flooded in, he just couldn’t make it through himself. He was in pretty good condition, though.”
George said citizens of Houston are working together to help each other.
“While we were on the west side area, there were families out there with boats rescuing each other,” George said, adding:
These are residents taking action on their own. It is very typical of the area, I have been here for 13 years, and every time we have had an issue, the residents step up and they try to take care of themselves.
Residents have also been helpful to local law enforcement.
“There were dozens and dozens of residents outside helping us, cheering us on, thanking us, and trying to give us food, water, drinks, whatever we needed. Anything we needed,” George said.
“We’re just very appreciative that everybody is stepping up and helping each other out as well as helping us out.”
Constable Ted Heap, who is 55 and also of Precinct 5, said, “The Harris County sheriff’s department as well as our department, Harris County Constable’s Precinct 5, are working to rescue thousands of homes affected by the flooding reservoirs being at an all-time high.”
- The Texan With a Flooded Home
Landgraf said her home flooded within minutes on Sunday.
“At 5:55 [Sunday] I went outside and it was about 1 foot from coming over one of the main straights, and then at six o’clock we looked outside of our back area and trash cans were floating everywhere,” Landgraf said.
“By 6:06, we had water coming in our house and by 6:10, the back door … just caved in. So it went from having 2 inches of flood water in our house to about 1 foot.”
Landgraf, who was able to evacuate with her husband and dog to a friend’s house on higher ground about a half a mile away from her home, said others are not as lucky.
“You can’t get anywhere,” Landgraf said. “If you look at the map of Houston, the amount of red dots, which indicates road closures, it just looks like chicken pox on the map.”
While the water is brown and “disgusting,” Landgraf said it is not the only thing that makes the situation frustrating.
“I have about probably 40 ant bites just from the time that we got out, just because there’s fire ants just everywhere in all of the bayous,” Landgraf said. “I guess because they are flooded out and they all when fire ants get fired out they go together in a big clump, and I guess we walked into a clump and that is one of the biggest issues.”
Landgraf said her home has lost electricity and power lines are going down because the ground is so saturated with water.
Facebook has been helpful in spreading the need for assistance, but Landgraf said there is much more to be done.
“Our Facebook and all of that is just people constantly saying, ‘Please, help if you can, if you have a boat, my parents or my elderly aunt or whatever is at this location,’” Landgraf said, adding:
And that’s what’s good about it. People that we see driving by have kayaks attached to their trucks. But the problem is that they just can’t get to certain places because you can’t get far. You can only get about a 1-mile radius.
Montalbano said this event has united his community.
“Having never met any of these people before, we started working together as a team,” Montalbano said. “At the end of the day, we’re all Americans.”