One Texan spent 13 hours on a tractor Tuesday to help rescue people affected by the flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey, hauling boats toward those still stranded.
Citing the morning news, Mark Morrow, a resident of Katy, a Houston suburb, said there were “a thousand houses … under water” in one area.
There were some people who refused to leave, but there was a universal sign for those who did want to be rescued: white flags.
“[The flags] signified, ‘Get us out of here,’” explained Morrow in a phone interview with The Daily Signal. “If you put something white in your window, or hung a white sheet on tiki torches, that somehow became some kind of uniform, ‘Save us’ signal across Houston.”
“Between seven and eight was when the National Guard showed up finally, but we had already had most … evacuated,” Morrow said.
Morrow, 45, said he was able to back 30-40 boats into the water on Tuesday. The Houston native used a tractor, lent to him by a friend, to help fellow rescuers with boats who were trying to bring the people of Cinco Ranch, a neighborhood of Katy, stuck inside their flooded homes.
“The boats couldn’t get back [to where they needed to be] because there’s low spots on either side of the bayou and the water was waist deep,” Morrow said.
Some people were trying to use their trucks, but “the trucks couldn’t back the boats across the bridge … to get on the other side of the bayou where all the houses are underwater,” Morrow said.
“So I was taking the boats through the low spots, getting the boats through the low spots on the trailers and then backing them over the bridge.”
The need for assistance was significant, Morrow said.
“The people we were pulling out or the people that the boat volunteers were pulling out … couldn’t take care of themselves.”
“There were people in wheelchairs, people with Alzheimer’s … I carried a lady on the tractor in my arms that had Alzheimer’s,” recalled Morrow.
“She was scared to death. She [was] surrounded by water and it would choke you up.”
On Wednesday, the New York Times also reported that the death toll from the storm has reached 30.
The community was helpful to those involved in rescue efforts, Morrow said.
“People would walk up and give you a McDonald’s cheeseburger and thank you and there were kids walking around with bags of food, just giving it to guys.”
They would walk through the water and give it to us on the other side of the bridge just to keep everybody moving and all the neighbors just came out and did what they could to get people as organized as possible to get them out of there.
I don’t know any neighbor who didn’t do something, Everybody was doing something.
Residents of Katy have responded overwhelmingly, Morrow said.
“The volunteer support here is, unfortunately, they can’t take volunteers [and] they can’t take any more donations for our shelters we have out here,” Morrow said. “The high school … sent out a tweet yesterday morning at 7a.m. and said we will take donations from 9 a.m.- 6 p.m. yesterday. At 9:40, there was a line to drop stuff off … it was backed up already.”
Morrow, who lives with his wife and two daughters in Katy, owns a landscape and irrigation business and a company called Dean’s Tree Stump Removal.
He sincerely thanked those from other parts of the country who were volunteering with him in Katy.
“There were volunteers from Iowa; Morgan City, Louisiana; [and] Harlingen, Texas just giving of themselves,” Morrow said. “As a Katy resident, I just want to send my thanks to all the people that came to help.”
This post originally appeared on The Daily Signal