Locals rescue Harvey flood victims, rally around relief efforts

Local Support for Harvey Victims

(WVUE) - Two Metairie men who rescued people from roofs and homes surrounded by water in the Houston area said they never anticipated the scope of Harvey's destruction when they answered the call for help.

"The first day we were there we were ducking under power lines to get around that neighborhood," said Patrick Morris.

"We have a small boat. We had to tell people we'll be back in a few minutes or we'll be back in 30 minutes," Charles Wilmore said.

Morris and Wilmore are not members of the now-famous Cajun Navy. On Monday and Tuesday, they were just two guys with a boat, a large truck and a willingness to help out.

"It just seemed like the right thing to do, and if we got over there and the impact was less or they had a enough people, we could turn around and come home," Morris said. "But that was not the case."

The two friends encountered high water along I-10 outside of Houston even before helping those affected by Harvey. The pair said they rescued more than two dozen people.

"[The flood victims] had stayed behind to save some horses. They were trying to shuttle horses out but the water had gotten too high. They were still in the area with the rushing water. On Monday afternoon, that was the group that we had taken out of there," Morris said.

The two are unsure of the fate of the horses that were left behind.

"Tuesday...people kind of knew what was happening. They had been watching the news and expected it. The water had been coming up all night. It was more of just a ferrying operation. We were just going in and getting people out of houses that had taken some water," Wilmore said.

Morris and Wilmore slept at a friend's home in Sugarland on Monday and said the experience was surreal and the drive home afterward was long.

"It's bad. There was lots of high water. It was receding as we left in some areas, but I know that Port Authur today took a beating. The water in Beaumont was rising," Wilmore said.

The pair's effort to aid those in need came to an end Wednesday, but from brews to broadcasts, many New Orleans-area organizations and individuals are doing their part to help flood victims.

"The support has been amazing," La Calle 97.9 FM DJ Nasty said.

The radio station began a donation drive Monday and has been packing a tractor trailer with supplies.

"Due to the all the Hispanic population they have in Houston, lots of people have family members here in New Orleans. And people are not even thinking twice. The phone won't stop ringing. We're like, non-stop," DJ Nasty said.

At the Mid City Yacht Club, employees have been accepting non-perishable items and goods for animals, as well as donating $1 for every pint of beer sold.

"Coming together shows people who we really are as a people and as a country. They need our help, and they were there for us. We need to step up and make sure we are there for them," MCYC employee Shannon Johnson said.

The Dryades YMCA is accepting gift cards for flood victims.

"You've probably got gift cards laying in your desk drawer or your dresser drawer somewhere in your house that someone gave you that you haven't used yet. Don't just let it sit there because there are people in Houston that need everything," Dryades Director of School of Commerce Jay Banks said. "We're doing it for all the love that Houston exhibited to us."

Garden District resident Annie Strain is collecting donations for flood victims and has already taken in $10,000 in donations. Strain is running the effort out of her home and gathering non-perishables to help people for the long-term.

"I'm thinking about when the cameras leave," Strain said. "That's the thing I think is so hard for people here knowing how difficult it was, knowing how painful and fraught the recovery was, knowing that people are going to have to go through that, millions of people are going to have to go through that."

Copyright 2017 WVUE. All rights reserved.