Texas A&M student Kyle Holmes and Yamaha Pro Fishing staff member Dwayne Eschete were among those who battled floods and driving rain from Hurricane Harvey in Texas to perform rescues — using their personal boats and resources to pluck people from the rising waters and out of second-story windows.
“When we were out there recovering people, it doesn’t matter what color you are or who you are or what you are — it’s just people helping people,” Eschete said last week from a boat searching for food to deliver to residents before he was called to do additional rescues in Lumberton.
“It just shows the true side of what we all are, of who we are. It puts things in perspective,” Eschete said. “Everybody has differences, and differences of opinions, but at the end of the day, everybody wants to help people.”
The work didn’t end for Eschete and Holmes after the rescues stopped. Both found ways to help people desperate for food, clothing, toothpaste, baby formula and diapers because trucks headed for the area were unable to reach the people most in need.
Holmes spent Labor Day weekend helping people gut their homes in the Houston area in an effort to get them re-situated.
Eschete spent the long weekend driving around Rockport, Port Aransas and Aransas Pass from sunup to sundown to bring cold water and food to people shoveling rubble out of homes and businesses. This video shows one of the hardest-hit areas of Rockport, Texas.
He went to Rockport on Monday to help cook for residents; he previously picked up $200 worth of popsicles and ice cream to hand out to people overwhelmed by intense heat as they worked to clean up and rebuild.
It was unclear exactly how many rescues good Samaritans made on personal boats during Harvey, which had hovered as a tropical storm for days over Houston, but anecdotal estimates were in the thousands.
They didn’t coordinate except as friend to friend as fishing buddies in an unflooded area contacted other friends closer to the destruction, asking how they could help. Hundreds launched their boats from highway off-ramps and spent several grueling days saving desperate people from epic floods they didn’t see coming.
Several lost their lives working to save people trapped in a flooded city ill equipped to handle the rising water.
Among the bodies recovered during the Labor Day weekend was that of Alonso Guillen, 31, according to the Houston Chronicle. Guillen’s family had been searching for his body since Aug. 30, when he set out to rescue people from the flooding. The boat he was riding in slammed into a bridge and capsized.
After making two rescues on Aug. 28, five volunteers, joined by two reporters for the British newspaper The Daily Mail, had embarked on a third mission when their boat became overwhelmed by a strong current and started to move toward a power line. The occupants jumped out and were electrocuted.
Two were confirmed dead, and another two were missing. The journalists and one rescuer clung to a tree for 18 hours before being rescued by three members of the Texas Department of Public Safety in a powerboat, according to the Washington Post. All three are recovering from their injuries.
“It is like a war zone,” Eschete said via text message last weekend. “People crying when you give them food.”
Yet Eschete insisted that he wasn’t doing anything special. Though he did acknowledge that boaters and hunters are special people, he said he was “just doing what others would do also.
“Could be the other way around,” Eschete said. “We all serve a purpose.”