Meet Hurricane Harvey Volunteer Chris

Chris was one of the many volunteers who traveled up to Texas to help with Hurricane Harvey.

The father of 2 traveled by car with his friend of over 23 years, named Jason. They stayed out there for almost a week, helping random people along the way recover their lives, washed away by Harvey.

Read about his experience with helping Hurricane Harvey victims.

 

Q: What was your inspiration to do this?

Law: “I kept up with all the news updates on the storm and felt “overwhelmed” by what I saw. So one night, I was outside smoking a cigarette with my wife and decided right then that her that I was going to Texas to help with recovery. I felt as if God wanted me to do it-- and I followed my instincts.”  

The pictures shown are photos from his journey. He didn’t want to take too many photos because he felt like the lives of the victims are already in disarray as it is, and didn’t feel right to take pictures of everything he saw.

 

Q: How did you plan your trip?

Law: "I had this grandiose, egotistical idea that we were going to get out there and assist with water rescues. I knew I needed some key pieces of gear, for my safety, to actually do that-- gear I didn't already have. First, I tried asking for the gear on my personal page. After a day or two, not getting any of it, I took it off and posted it on my Karate page. After a day of no response, I started calling businesses. I couldn't get ahold of the persons responsible for those decisions. Then, two nights before I was heading out, a thought occurred to me... Facebook has a marketplace where people sell and buy stuff. I knew what gear I needed and just started messaging complete strangers to ask if they'd reduce the price they were asking for, or donate it outright. The biggest thing I needed was waders. One guy was selling a pair for 80 dollars. He responded to me that I could just have them as long as I could meet him to get them. I got them the day I was leaving.Retail, they were 129 dollars. He only wore them 4-5 times, so they were basically brand new. And he just gave them to me!"

 

Q: Where did you get the money from?

Law: “My trip was funded, almost entirely, by donations. I only had 130 dollars out of pocket to spend. That 130 dollars ended up becoming about 600 dollars. People gave me money to help people. A neighbor I never talked to before from across the street saw me packing up to leave and he came over and asked what I was doing. He gave me 100 dollars. Another friend of mine gave me 40 dollars. The rest of it was given by people I knew, and people I didn't, because they wanted to help and didn't know how-- I didn’t ask for any of it. I realized I had 100 dollars more than I needed, so I spent about 80-90 dollars on water at Walmart in Baton Rouge. After loading it all into my car it was so low to the ground it bottomed out on the smallest bumps.”

 

Q: Where were you planning on going to help?

Law: "There was no destination, I just drove. The closer I got to texas, the more it looked like a scene out of an apocalyptic movie. If you zoom in, there is trash scattered everywhere. There was this huge misconception that if there were any gas left in Texas, it'd be outrageously priced. It was actually cheaper in Beaumont than it is in South Carolina. On the way up there, Jason asked me where we were going. And I had no idea myself. The night we got to Texas, we asked the National Guard in a Walmart parking lot how to help. Jason walked over to a guardsmen and asked how we could help. He gave him the name and number of this female captain in charge, who told us where we could go. The next day, we drove over to a middle school in Port Arthur where displaced people and families were being taken. It too was like a scene out of a movie. We stayed all morning until lunch, helping with some odds and ends, but they didn't really need us. That's what prompted me to look into helping elsewhere. That's how I ended up finding about Ford Park in Beaumont-- about an hour and a half from Port Arthur."

 

Q: What did you do while you were there?

Law: "The church we ended up staying at the rest of the time could probably be considered a mega church. They were the central collection point for donations. Then what they'd do is get vehicles to take back to their congregations. The time we were there, at least 3 semi trucks came, packed with goods. As I was unloading a semi, I saw this box... the sender added a personal note to whoever would end up with it. It gave me some feels. There was this huge delivery of meals delivered. (Think hamburger helper type food.) One of the pallets had been damaged. So this little old lady decided to use it for everyone assisting at the church-- paid employees and volunteers like my buddy and I. My buddy and I slept in a tent the whole time, so it was nice to get some hot meals that weren't freeze dried.A couple of older ladies from the church heard heard about how we were accommodating ourselves and they decided to give us stuff-- a goodie bag with all kinds of snacks, pillows, and blankets. We had bought ourselves a bunch of baby wipes to clean ourselves with-- A deacon of a church overheard us talking about how we had no access to showers, and offered to give each of us 12 dollars to ride up the road to a truck stop to take a real shower. I ended up thanking him as best as I could, but declined the offer. I suggested that he use the money to help a family in need.Someway or another, the Beaumont chief of police heard about us and everything we were doing and came out to the church we were staying at to meet us."

 

Q: Did anything impact you emotionally?

Law: “The abandoned animals really got me. We volunteered at Ford park, where stray animals either took off out of fear, or were abandoned by their owners.(There was a cow!) The first hour we were there, we cleaned donated kennels. Then we got to walk dogs that had been brought in. I'm an extreme dog lover. Those poor things can’t take care of themselves.The first dog I walked was an emaciated brown dog. It killed me looking at it’s ribs protruding out of his body like that. Another little white dog I walked was so afraid it was scared of its own shadow. I had to pick it up and carry it out so it could use the bathroom-- shaking violently the whole time. Now the black dog, Oh my god. My eyes are watering up thinking about that one... So the dogs were in individual cages. I was squatting down, putting a leash on a dog. Next thing I know, I feel something wet against my left elbow. I look over my shoulder to see a little black pup. This lady, another volunteer, had already gotten him on a leash and was working towards walking it outside to pee. He actually crawled up onto my lap as I was still squatting down. I asked the lady if we could switch dogs and she replied, "He crawled into your lap-- how can I say no?!" So I ended up with him instead. I cried the hardest with him. That was all I could handle, emotionally. The ASPCA were optimistically hopeful that the owners would come looking for their animals."

Q: Was there anything that bothered you?

Law:One of the biggest things we did was put 2 cases of water in every car that drove through. There were all types of water coming from all around the world, and there was one woman who got mad that she didn’t get the brand of water that she wanted. Jason ended up leaving the case of water on the roof of her car because she was so picky. But of course, there were plenty of people that didn’t say thank you. But I wasn’t here to get a thank you, I was there to help people who needed it.” Chris also said he saw good and bad sides in people and in the overall situation at hand.

 

Law: “I would call myself a spiritualist-- there has to be a power greater than yourself. It all seemed like a surreal environment. My eyes have been opened a little bit wider after this experience. I don't believe in coincidences-- only God-incidents. I definitely believe this is one of them.”

Be kind Collegiettes. Pay it forward and you will receive kindness back.