Shady, tree-lined neighborhoods are a maze of mismatched dinette sets and children’s toys. Stores are de facto shelters, diners and one-stop shops for donations and disaster assistance forms. Times are hard, but one thing has emerged — a wave of community spirit and Christian servanthood as neighbors help neighbors and churches unleash armies of volunteers.
This was her third flood. I did not ask why she stays, because it is her right to live where she chooses, and she owes neither me nor anyone else an explanation. For her, this yard, this house, this oak tree, is happiness. I see a clever sign. She sees birthday parties and prom date photos in the front yard. She sees her children’s tiny fingers and toes and smells the sweetness of walking in the front door with a brand new, fragile life in her hands. These things are not easy to leave.
The scope of the devastation is staggering. Houston is the fourth largest city in the nation, bigger than the state of New Jersey with a population of more than 2.3 million within city limits and 6.5 million throughout the metro area. Across the state, Hurricane Harvey affected more than 6.8 million people in 18 counties. As the days pass, the damage and death totals continue to rise. So, too, do the number of volunteers.
Keith Kresta, a Crescent cotton farmer, grew up on a farm and is accustomed to the capriciousness of weather. Already mid-harvest, when he saw the Colorado River rising, he hastened to prepare his crops, move his cattle to higher ground, load his furniture into trailers, and install a pipe ring and pump around his farmhouse. As darkness fell on Texas, there was nothing more Mr. Kresta could do. He had managed to harvest 60 percent of his 800 acres.
After Katrina, blue tarpaulins fluttered in the breeze, trying to protect what little was left. In some places, the cheap tarp was the most expensive thing on the property. In Houston, salvation came in the form of white sheets, white t-shirts, white bandanas, white garbage bags — anything that could be tied to a car antenna, a windowsill, a rooftop, a branch. A sign of life. A sign of resignation. A sign of surrender.
Susan Keays stands at the water’s edge and shades her eyes to better see an approaching boat. As she holds her cellphone, verifying an address, she quickly counts heads. One volunteer is missing. This morning, they were strangers. Now, they are a sort of family. She is on Memorial Boulevard, where kayaks and bass boats bob in a river that shouldn’t be. At first, she came to the edge of the flood to save horses. She is staying to save people.
Shipping containers fill the yard at Intermodal Cartage Company, with the multicolored steel stacks towering over the heavy-duty Mack® Pinnacles® waiting to carry them to their destinations. Memphis-based IMCG, one of eight businesses operating under the IMC Companies umbrella, has become a leader in container drayage, tapping into more than three decades of experience in international supply chain solutions.
Nearly three decades ago, two young men posed for a picture together, both beaming as they stood in front of a gleaming 1987 Mack® RD model. Sean Winters, 21, had just bought his first garbage truck, continuing the family legacy that began in the 1950s and continues today. Jimmy Brown, 25, was a salesman at Gabrielli Truck Sales in Hartford, Conn., and that first truck was just one of many Mack models he has since sold to Winters. Partnerships like those with Gabrielli and Mack Trucks are the foundation of Winters Bros. Waste and Recycling, Winters says. And their bond continues today.
Every tree has a story, and if that tree is in Steadman, S.C., odds are good that the Gunter family knows its history. Tracy Gunter Jr. and his son, Tracy Gunter III, own and operate Tracy’s Logging and T3 Chipping, continuing a family legacy that began with Tracy Gunter Sr., who worked in a sawmill. The woods are where the Gunters make their living, but it is also where they feel most at home, and they see themselves not only as loggers but also as stewards of the land.
KR Trucking’s Mack fleet is the talk of Tennessee, and it’s easy to see why. Owners, Kenneth and Keith Radford’s 16 Mack® Granite® dump trucks are some of the cleanest — and most colorful — trucks on the road. Every truck is a different color, prompting frequent comparisons to Skittles candy. But beneath the sweet exteriors, it’s all business, providing the strength Radford needs for clay mining and the durability he has come to expect from the Mack brand.