My 16 year old dog died early last year, and my wife and I adopted two older dogs that had been Hurricane Harvey rescues. They had bounced around to different shelters over a period of months after the family they lived with lost their home in the storms, moved in with relatives, and couldn’t keep them. My wife and I have tried to give them consistency above all else, and after six months or so they were willing to be in separate rooms from each other. That was a huge step.
These two dogs are a regular reminder of the human toll of that storm, which affected so many people mere hours from our family in Austin. Summer Hull (“Mommy Points”) spent days gathering supplies and making sure people in her neighborhood had what they needed, even as she suffered real damage to her own home.
It’s the things that people do for each other when disaster hits that’s most meaningful, and in the moment, long before government programs decamp. It’s people like Satchel Smith, who works at the Homewood Suites in Beaumont, Texas, who make a real difference in people’s lives.
He had just shown up to work at 3 p.m. when Tropical Storm Imelda hit.
In fact, he was the only employee on property. The hotel was cut off from the rest of the area with “the access road…underwater and [freeway] shut down due to flooding.” People couldn’t get in or out. Other staff couldn’t or wouldn’t make it in to work, but he stayed. And he worked 32 straight hours taking care of guests.
He normally works the desk but “he was now the hotel’s chef, maintenance man, room service attendant and any other vacant position that needed filling, even when his experience was lacking.”
He had “never worked in a kitchen,” he says, “I’m not really a good cook.” But he cooked anyway. One guest helped him serve breakfast. Others helped him with dinner (“a simple chicken pasta with garlic bread”).
And with their own needs taken care of, guests “braved the flood to distribute food and water to stalled truckers” across Interstate 10.
He showed up on Wednesday, and another employee finally arrived on Friday. He brought her up to speed and… took a nap.
Credit: Homewood Suites, Beaumont Texas
Satchel Smith lost one car during Hurricane Harvey, and lost his current car in this storm, but still says “everything happens for a reason.”
I guess the lesson is that if a storm is going to hit, you want to be staying at at the Homewood Suites in Beaumont, Texas – or that people can really come together when it matters most and deliver for each other.