“As a pilot, seeing the flooding and storm damage of Hurricane Harvey from the air was remarkable. Flying over the huge span of Houston and seeing cars traveling at seemingly normal speeds, gave the impression that all was normal. Sadly, just off of that same highway were houses, businesses, and apartments with floodwater up to the eaves of their roofs. Cars were submerged with lights still on, underpasses of major tollways had water up to their bridges, and feral hogs along with other wildlife sat stranded on the back porches of evacuated, upscale, neighborhood homes. It was straight out of a Hollywood end-of-the-world movie.
This was not my first exposure to a hurricane’s devastation. In the early 90’s, I flew relief efforts in Hawaii on the island of Kauai the days following Iniki. The damage was bad there, and lives were forever impacted by that storm, but the flooding in Houston was much worse. Hurricane Harvey’s damage was so random, insidious, and utterly complete.
The core of our mission in Houston was to provide “eyes from above” for law enforcement seeking information on victims in distress. Providing real-time information to rescue boats was vital to the people still in harm’s way. The second mission was to help distribute medical supplies, food, and water as the storm progressed east. Shouldering this load allowed the Coast Guard and other military aircraft to continue with their own life-saving mission as the storm progressed.
Working with the Red Cross as they used new technology to survey the damage and provide better, more accurate and more rapid information to FEMA proved vital for the victims of Harvey as well. This information helped provide funds to victims faster than ever, getting folks from Corpus Christi to the Louisiana Border out of shelters and into hotels – one step closer to starting their long road to recovery. The outreach of Texans and the entire country was breathtaking. Seeing people’s resilient community spirit and willingness to give, help, support, and most of all – Pray – was, and still is, moving. Food, water, and medical supplies were donated by the ton. Delivering these important resources it to those in need makes a person proud to be, not just an American, but a human being.”
– Richard Potts of Last Shadow