With his quintessential Texan drawl Mike Whatley is somewhat taken aback by my question asking why he’s brought his son, his neighbour and his boat to go house by house trying to save lives.
“Getting people out of a flooded neighbourhood, buddy,” he says.
“I don’t know what to say. Hurricane Ike, we got smoked, the town of Dickinson saved us. Now we’re coming back to the town of Dickinson to save them.”
Mike wouldn’t be anywhere else while the floodwaters are still high.
Today his trio heard there were children trapped.
Mike Whatley and his son search for trapped flood victims in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. (ABC News: Conor Duffy)
As they go house to house in his boat, down a road which is more than a metre underwater, he calls out to find out if anyone has seen them.
It turns out the kids are safe, but his neighbour Justin Free is a part-time paramedic and wants to know if anyone needs medical help.
“I’m a volunteer and I couldn’t sit at home and wait for this to blow over. That’s why I’m here,” he says.
This is their third day wading through the dangerous floodwaters. On one trip alone they brought 14 people, a dog and two cats to safety.
Volunteers take to Houston’s streets in their own boats in search of flood victims. (Twitter: K. Hudson)
“It’s community. We came together, no distinct skin colour, nothing,” Justin says.
“We all came together and worked as one. That’s what happened.”
Emergency workers appreciate volunteers
An entire armada of volunteers have taken to the flooded streets to help the people of Houston.
It’s much appreciated by people in the city’s fire service, like Cary Hunter whose radio doesn’t stop when we catch up with him down the road.
“I think we’re at incident 146 [today]. A lot,” he says.
“We still have a backlog of calls. But it’s going to get done. We have guys that love what they do and we’re here to serve the public.”
While we are talking to Cary his partner wades out through the waters to reach an elderly lady who hasn’t answered calls.
“We had a lady no-one had heard from,” Cary says. “We had several, sometimes they’re alive and sometimes they’ve been consumed by water. But we have to make sure that we make an attempt to find the victim.”
The lady is fine, but Cary faces a long night with emergency calls continuing to flood in.
He and the volunteers manning the boats won’t be getting a break anytime soon.
Members of Louisiana’s self-styled Cajun Navy towed their boats to Houston to help flood victims. (Twitter: K Hudson)
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