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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The good in this world

John+Jones%2C+Class+of+2002%2C+organized+a+group+of+around+50+people+from+the+Bryan-College+Station+area%2C+including+a+dozen+Texas+A%26amp%3BM+students+to+help+flood+victims+in+Houston+of+Hurricane+Harvey.
Photo by Alex Miller

John Jones, Class of 2002, organized a group of around 50 people from the Bryan-College Station area, including a dozen Texas A&M students to help flood victims in Houston of Hurricane Harvey.

At 12:45 a.m. Monday morning, a friend of mine came to ask me the last thing I expected: Did I want to leave for Houston at 4:30 a.m. with him to help victims of Hurricane Harvey?
A little over three hours later, I looked at my alarm contemplating if I really wanted to do this. So naturally I got up and went.
What ensued may be the most surreal day I have ever experienced in my life.
I was invited by a friend who saw a Facebook post late Sunday night. Within two hours, 15 of us, all students were ready to go.
Most of us were Aggies, some were native Houstonians, but we all wanted to help.
We met a convoy of boats from the company Lochow Ranch Pond & Lake Management, Aggie owned and operated by John Jones, Class of 2002. Jones put together a crew of his fellow employees, but called for volunteers such as us, many of whom were Aggies.
As we meandered our way into Houston through the flooded areas of U.S. 290, taking back roads around Prairie View and Waller, reality began to sink in – this could be bad, really bad.
Our first stop was in northeast Houston in Greenspoint. I began to witness the tragedy of the flood as we made our way through. Nearly a dozen people were rescued, most just carrying a single bag. I saw a family paddling down the road on an air mattress, too.
Nothing compared to our next stop, Fort Bend County, which had been given a mandatory evacuation early Monday morning. On our near-hour long drive across Beltway 8, I could have counted the number of cars we passed on my hands — it felt like a scene out of the movie “The Day After Tomorrow.”
For Houston being the fourth-largest city in America, it felt dead.
Our convoy of boats gathered at a Kroger which was a post for the National Guard. From there, the 50ish people we had divided into three teams with one goal – rescue anyone stranded.
My team, led by Brandon Booth, Class of 2005, soon reached our ‘launch pad,’ which was Westpark Tollway. For those who can imagine what going the wrong way down Westpark Tollway in an air boat is like, it was about as wild as it sounds.
Booth tried to mentally prep us for the worst – finding a dead body. The thought of that had me begin to question what I had gotten myself into, but the next five hours proved why I did.
About half a mile down from the ‘launch’ was a large apartment complex filled with people crying for help. We had two air boats in our team begin to make trips to the center where a crowd had gathered to be picked up.
From there, we took them to a CVS/pharmacy at the intersection of the tollway where the National Guard loaded rescues into the bed of army trucks to be transported to Kroger where they would then board buses and be taken to a secure shelter.
My job was the grunt work, I would jump out once we reached the shallow areas and hold the boat in waist high water while people climbed in.
The amount of people we had to come back for did not seem to end either. Residents would notice us driving in and just when we thought we had gotten everyone, 20 more would come out of nowhere.
It was the reaction of the people we were helping that stuck with me. Through this tragedy and despite devastating destruction, the people we rescued we filled with pure joy and thankfulness as random strangers helping them.
The group we rescued was one of many backgrounds and ages. Some elderly, nearly a dozen infants and quite a few pets as well. It amazed me how these people could stay so strong as we carried them away to an unknown future while all they could do was look back and watch their home wash away.
Many carried just a couple trash bags filled with a few pair of clothes and sometimes food. Many were probably uncertain what laid ahead for them as we helped them off the boat and sent them into the hands of the National Guard. Many of them may have their lives changed forever.
In total, we helped rescue close to a hundred people in our boat alone, and the boats in our area brought back several hundred people all together.
We had to leave the scene around five o’clock to be certain that we would return to College Station before more rain came and the main roads became completely blocked off, trapping us in Houston.
As I took a shower that night, I felt guilty.
But then I realized something, instead of feeling guilty, I should be thankful.
Thankful that I still have running water and electricity. Thankful that all our grocery stores and restaurants are open this week providing food for us to eat. Thankful that tomorrow I can carry on my normal life. Thankful for my faith, which gave me the strength to persevere and showed me so many things.
From Houston PD escorting us to Greenspoint, to the Louisiana Game Wardens coming across state lines to provide extra boats, to the Fort Bend County Constables directing traffic through high waters and the seemingly endless line of State Troopers headed into Houston while I was heading home – you are courageous and incredible.
Time will tell how long it will take for Houston to recover from this catastrophe. But I know one thing – there are people who will work endlessly to make it happen as soon as possible.
And that is what is good in our world.

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  • The group split into several teams at both locations to divide up and rescue people from many different areas.

    Photo by Alex Miller
  • Assistant sports editor Alex Miller left College Station early Monday morning to aid in Houston during Hurricane Harvey.

    Photo by By Michael Valadez and David Romay
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