How Gateway people respond when disaster strikes

Soon after Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas gulf coast, Garrett Marshall and some friends decided they’d had enough. Late one night, they’d been watching the news stories and videos on social media showing Harvey’s flood victims struggling to get to safety, and around midnight they came up with a plan. In the early hours of the next morning, Garrett, who attends the Gateway Grand Prairie Campus, kissed his wife and five kids goodbye, and he and his friends headed to Houston with a boat hitched to the back of their vehicle.

“We’re just a bunch of lake rats,” he says. “We know how to operate a boat, and we thought they could use our help.” That turned out to be an understatement. Upon arriving in the greater Houston area, they launched their boat into the floodwater in a residential area that didn’t seem to have very many boats helping out. The work was overwhelming.

“We were barely in the city when someone saw we had a boat and shouted they needed some help getting people out of their houses,” he says. “The water was so deep you couldn’t even see houses’ first floors. People were hanging out of second-story windows waving white flags and asking for help.” They immediately got to work cruising through the neighborhood calling for women and children who needed to move to higher ground as the rain poured relentlessly.

At one house, a woman handed Garrett a basket of blankets before she got into the boat. “I thought it was just some belongings and then I heard this little wail,” he says. “I pulled back the blanket and saw a three-month-old baby boy.” It was a significant moment for Garrett because back at home, his 11-month-old was tucked away safely in a warm bed—a simple comfort these flood victims won’t be able to enjoy for a while. That’s when the gravity of the situation hit him hard.

During the 48 hours he and his friends were pulling people to safety—most of which was done on little sleep— Garrett helped rescue elderly people, people in wheelchairs, small children, and people with medical needs. “I’d ask them if they had all their medication,” he says. “And if they forgot, I’d ask them where they keep it, go in the house, and grab everything I could to make sure they had it all.”

When they returned home two days later, exhausted and waterlogged, they already planned a follow-up trip to continue helping those affected by the storm. “We knew we had a boat and supplies and were able-bodied people who could help,” Garrett says. “We felt the call, and we just went.”

 

GATEWAY CRISIS RELIEF
Gateway is working with some incredible organizations to help rescue, feed, and clothe people and clean up areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. Here are some of the ministries Gateway is partnering with.

MINUTEMAN DISASTER RESPONSE
Minuteman Disaster Response is a first-responder support team comprised of highly skilled volunteers that offer search-and-rescue and debris-removal services at disaster scenes.
minutemanresponse.org

MERCY CHEFS
Mercy Chefs is a nonprofit, faith-based charitable organization committed to providing high-quality, professionally prepared meals to victims, first responders, and volunteers during natural disasters and national emergencies.
mercychefs.com

THE GOODNESS PROJECT
The Goodness Project works with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (fema) providing life-sustaining necessities directly to those affected by disaster.
teamgoodness.com

SAMARITAN’S PURSE
Samaritan’s Purse is accepting volunteers to help with cleanup in south Texas. Once they identify the areas of greatest need and secure host church locations, they will begin deploying volunteers to physically and spiritually minister to victims.
spvolunteernetwork.samaritanspurse.org

 

For more information about getting involved with Gateway Crisis Relief, visit relief.gatewaypeople.com.