On Sunday, Garrett Marshall and his friend watched the horrific images of people trapped in their flooded homes in Houston.
They heard officials beg for help.
“They said if you’ve got a boat and a truck, come on,” he says.
Marshall, who has no other ties to Houston other than he’s a diehard Astros fan, decided he and his friends would take a boat and do their part. Next up, he had to tell his wife.
“I was like, 'You’re leaving in seven hours if I say, ‘That’s OK?' and he was like 'Yes,’" says his wife, Megan Ard. “At that point, I knew how bad it was down there and that they needed all the help they can get. I was just like, ‘I’m not going to stop you.’”
She was scared for him but understood that he felt a calling.
In the wees hours of Monday morning, he and three friends set off for Houston with a boat, an RV and plenty of supplies.
When they got to town, they put the boat in the water and went to work. Tuesday was another day spent helping desperate people escape to higher ground. They battled strong water currents as they worked.
Back home, his wife held down the fort at their Euless home with their three children, four-year-old Levi, two-year-old Leighton and 11-month-old Teagan.
Levi knew his daddy is working. I asked him what his daddy is doing and he said, “He’s helping people.”
Beyond that, Levi had no idea that his daddy was risking life to help others.
Marshall says he knew it would be bad before he got there. It has been so much worse than even words and pictures can describe.
“Pictures don’t do it justice at all,” he told her.
On Tuesday afternoon, Ard caught up with her husband via phone during a break.
“How’s it going so far?” Ard asked.
“It’s unreal,” he told her. “It is so unreal that it’s real.”
She told him the children missed him.
“I miss them, too,” he told her. “Trust me.”
Levi just wanted to know when daddy was coming home.
“I want you to come home,” Levi told his daddy. “I want you to come home. Where are you at?”
“I’m in Houston right now,” he told him, his voice cracking with emotion.
Some of the things he’s encountered are heartbreaking. He walked in a flooded home, and he was handed a basket.
“I heard a little wail, and there was a three-month-old baby in there,” he says, his voice cracking. “That really hit home.”
Another elderly man was pulled from his home in a wheelchair. He told his wife of the absolute devastation they had encountered. Many of those they rescued got on the boat with nothing more than clothes on their back and whatever they could carry in a plastic bag.
Overhead as they spoke, a Black Hawk helicopter was flying above them, rescuing people.
“I love you, babe,” he told her as they ended the call.
“I love you, too, sweetie,” she replied.
“Give the kids my love,” he said.
“I will,” she told him.
Marshall and his friends decided late Tuesday to return to North Texas after they saw an influx of the members of the National Guard who were far better equipped for the hazardous conditions.
His wife is proud of him for answering the call to help.
“Every man and woman that has taken time out of their lives to go down there and help these people, they are the true heroes right now,” his wife says.