North Texans use boat to rescue residents after Harvey

Friends rush to Houston to help flood victims

Garrett Marshall would do anything to protect his kids.

So when he saw the images of desperate people trapped in their flooded homes, staying away wasn’t an option.

“I've got kids at home and so you know to have to put yourself in that situation of what if that were your children,” says the Euless resident.

He and his three friends – Lynn Muncy, Jeff Southerland and Jordan Fabel – spent Monday and Tuesday rescuing stranded residents in the Houston area.

Still, it did take some convincing to get Lynn Muncy on board.

“To tell the truth, I didn’t want to go,” says Muncy, a Hurst resident.

He and his son-in-law Jeff Southerland rebuilt a bass boat about three years ago. They’d put in wooden decking and seating.

However, the boat had been rarely used. The tires on the trailer were flat from so little use.

“I decided against it,” Muncy says. “I was like yeah, the boat needs too much [work].”

He’d even agreed to sell it, but the person never showed up to pay for it.

So when he walked into his house Sunday and heard Houston officials begging for help from people with boats, he decided was going.

“My granddaughter asked me why I was doing that, why was I going down there, I said, ‘If you were stuck in a house like that, wouldn’t you like for somebody to come and help you?’” he says.

The boat trailer got brand new tires. They set off for Houston about 3:30 a.m. Monday.

They started doing rescues the moment they got to town. That first day was spent mostly in northeast Houston.

“It was surreal. I mean, it was there were some places where you couldn't tell this is a road,” says Fabel of Richland Hills. “Sometimes you could see stripes on the roadway and you knew there was asphalt down there, and sometimes there was no telling what was down there.”

Conditions were treacherous. Currents swept them into fences. The boat constantly filled with water from the driving rain.

“You’re running into obstacles that are generally not in your waterways,” says Southerland of Hurst.

Southerland and Muncy acted as ship’s co-captains. Marshall and Fabel were the muscle. The boat didn’t have neutral or reverse, so they were the ones jumping in and out of the boat to guide the boat into position to rescue people.

When it was time to leave, Marshall and Fabels were the ones guiding it out.

“Everybody all around you needed help everywhere, and it didn’t really matter which way you went,” Muncy says.

A terrified mother handed Marshall a three-month-old baby in a basket during one of Monday’s rescues.

Monday night, they headed north to Humble to rest for the next day. 

When they woke up Tuesday morning, they realized conditions had worsened in Humble because the San Jacinto River had breached its banks.

They spotted a half-submerged mobile home park. They found an elderly man in a wheelchair needing rescue. Volunteers in another boat helped them rescue the people in the mobile home park.

They say they found far too many people that were still unwilling to leave, even as water flooded their homes. In those cases, all they could do is offer them food and water.

One of the most striking images was watching a Black Hawk helicopter pull people from homes, Southerland says.

They came back tired but feeling they’d made a difference. Muncy knows now that the boat wasn’t meant to be sold.

“Things just have a way of working out the way they’re supposed to,” he says.

They plan to return in a few days. They'll bring the boat, an RV and supplies to help those in need.

“We just want to go down there and see what else we can do,” Marshall says.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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