September 8, 2017 10:23:43 AM
STARKVILLE -- Hunters Creek Village, Texas, was one of the lucky ones. On the western outskirts of Houston, the village had somewhat recently installed new drainage systems, as reported by The Houston Chronicle, and was geographically well positioned for Hurricane Harvey.
None of that was apparent to Jace Christmann as Harvey made landfall in the early morning hours of August 26.
"I really didn't know it was going to be that bad. The day that announced it was a Category 3 was kind of, whoa," Christmann said. "I was a little nervous for them."
The 'them' in this scenario for Christmann is his family. Christmann, a kicker on the Mississippi State football team, grew up in Houston and still has family members in the area; he and MSU outfielder Elijah MacNamee found themselves checking up on loved ones in the aftermath of the storm that rocked southern Texas.
Christmann feels fortunate: he said his parents' home made it through the storm OK, but some neighbors have seen flooding. The worst part may have been the uncertainty: Christmann said his parents were out of town when the storm hit. They tried to fly back to Houston but couldn't, so flew to Dallas and tried to drive into Houston but couldn't do that either, ultimately staying in College Station until returning home.
If the Christmann family was in need of saving, it's possible a fellow MSU father would have come to the rescue.
Phil Horton, MacNamee's dad, was among the boats cruising the standing water over the streets of Houston searching for those needing rescued from their homes. Horton told The Dispatch a friend was taking his boat out to join the rescue efforts and asked for his help.
"I guess it's that neighborly instinct or whatever it is in Houston. It's unbelievable to describe," Horton said. "You see these folks that don't know each other and probably wouldn't meet in any other circumstance putting their 40, 50, $60,000 boats in the middle of the street to help their neighbors to save people and animals. It was unbelievable to witness."
Horton described a scene of hundreds of boats out on the water: "I promise you every fisherman, every duck hunter with a boat was out there helping save people." It's why Horton was reluctant to accept public accolades for what he did over the days after Harvey hit, knowing he was merely one of hundreds.
When Horton and his friends took to the water on Monday (the storm hit on a Sunday), he described a hectic system of people bouncing around neighborhoods searching for people to save. In the days that followed an organizing force arrived, assigning boat numbers to areas.
One of those days, Horton and crew spent most of it at an apartment complex. He said most of the elderly in the first floor had been taken care of and they were there to evacuate any others that needed it. Once they got organized, those that they rescued were either intercepted by the National Guard or taken to a predetermined rendezvous point: pharmacy, grocery store parking lot, etc.
"You can see the fear in their eyes, they don't know what's going on," Horton said. He added most boats had a firefighter or other EMT professional on board in case someone needed immediate medical attention.
In Starkville, both Christmann and MacNamee checked with family back home more often than usual. Once safety for all family members was established, they tried their best to jump back into their normal routines -- just like their families in Houston, even if their normal isn't as normal anymore.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter, @Brett_Hudson
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