As record-setting rain from Tropical Storm Harvey continued to pound Houston on Tuesday, some people with boats went to the area to navigate the rising floodwaters and help with rescue efforts.
One of those was a man from another part of Texas who spent his 30th birthday helping others.
James Strange and Jordan Gonzales, who both have children, drove about four hours from San Antonio when the realized they magnitude of the devastation. They waded through flooded Houston streets on a motorboat Tuesday, avoiding cars in the water as they looked for people who needed help.
“Something hit us close to home and we said ‘we need to go out there and go help.’ We got the resources to go do it, we got the time. Let’s do it,” Strange said. “Everybody is in the same situation. It don’t matter who they are, where they’re from,” he said about the people he was helping.
Gonzales spent his 30th birthday operating the boat as Strange stood at the front with a makeshift oar, making sure they didn’t hit anything in the rising waters. Strange said they expected to see the devastation, but they weren’t hoping for it.
“It’s hard to see,” Gonzales said. “We knew we had to do something, we just couldn’t sit on the couch and do nothing.”
He said that some people looked surprised and elated when they saw the motorboat approach them, while many others remained in shock after the fact.
“It’s hard for them to leave everything behind,” Gonzales said. He added that half are “ready to go” while others struggle with the thought of leaving their home and their belongings.
One older couple thought they could tough out the storm and had remained in their home before they decided it was time to leave Tuesday.
“We thought we could do it, but nature won, Mother Nature won,” said the woman who was rescued by Strange and Gonzales’ boat.