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The most inspiring stories emerging in Harvey’s aftermath

Rescue crews and ordinary Texans worked to pull hundreds of Houston area residents from their homes and cars after Hurricane Harvey battered the city. (Video: Taylor Turner/The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Since Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast last week, images of destruction and devastation have dominated the news and social media feeds. The storm inundated Southeast Texas with torrential rain for days, causing deadly floods and billions of dollars worth of damage. Harvey’s true toll is only just beginning to come into focus.

But in times of tragedy, we also see moments of human resilience and empathy. Disasters have a way of bringing out the best in humanity.

The Washington Post has chronicled numerous moments of inspiration since the storm struck — harrowing rescues, neighbors helping neighbors, people donating money and food and goods for those in need, and more.

Here are just some of the incredible stories of human endurance, kindness and bravery that have emerged in Harvey’s aftermath.


When a woman in labor became trapped in Harvey’s floodwaters, neighbors formed a human chain.

One by one, neighbors clasped hands and formed a chain in the waist-high water, carefully guiding Andrea and Greg to the truck’s bed, where they climbed on board and were driven to the hospital.
“’Moments like these are incredibly precious and remind me of all the good in the world,’” neighbor Molly Akers, who captured the moment on video, said on Facebook.”

This doctor saved a baby’s life at a Houston shelter.

Don Winters, a pediatrician with the National Disaster Medical System, helped save the life of a baby with a genetic disorder, who required a special tube to eat. When he came to tend to the baby at Houston’s convention center, the tube had become dislodged.

“That’s a life sustaining thing for that child. He can’t eat without that tube in place,” Winters said.

Dr. Don Winters, a pediatrician for the National Disaster Medical System, has been deployed to Houston's convention center to provide emergency medical attention to patients displaced by Harvey. (Video: Whitney Leaming, Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)

The Cajun Coast Search and Rescue Team is helping save people from the floods.

“At Cajun Coast, we’ve got three dozen members, all first-responder trained and certified,” Cajun Coast commander Toney Wade wrote for The Post. “Pulling an elderly person into the boat who’s been without their medication for a couple of days, or pulling a child out of the water makes it worthwhile. It’s a good feeling. Once we saw how much rain was falling in Texas, we didn’t think twice: Even if we hadn’t been asked to come by local officials, we were going anyway. We live for it.”

Also out in Harvey’s floodwaters: The “Cajun Navy,” more volunteers armed with boats and supplies.

The Cajun Navy is part of an armada of private boats that descended on the Houston area after authorities asked for help from those who could potentially navigate the treacherous floodwaters across a massive swath of Southeast Texas in search of residents. Many boaters from East Texas and west Louisiana streamed to the outskirts of the disaster until they could drive no more, switching over to boats to go door to door seeking out the stranded.


In Houston, acts of hospitality set off a chain reaction of goodwill.

Anne Whitlock and Michael Skelly had been ferrying hurricane victims to the shelter from a nearby hospital. They knew the convention center was filling rapidly, and they were certain their own home, a 110-year-old converted firehouse in Houston’s East End, would be safe from the rising waters.
So they brought home the family — a woman who had emigrated from Mexico, her two daughters, her brother and a family friend — and Skelly posted a message on Facebook urging others to take people in. And so began a chain of help, one Houston family assisting another, as the nation’s fourth-largest city grapples with the impact of an epic and devastating storm.

Flooding trapped workers at a Mexican bakery for two days. They spent it baking for Harvey victims.

For two days, the trapped bakers churned out hundreds of pieces of bread, filling the shelves again with bolillos (a Mexican sandwich bread), kolaches and their signature pan dulce. They watched as, at the peak of flooding, water approached the doors of the building; fortunately, it never seeped in, and the store never lost electricity. …
At night, the bakers slept on the ground, on makeshift beds and a large sack of flour. The bread from their two-day marathon baking session was delivered to various shelters, including the George R. Brown Convention Center, and a police station nearby.

NFL star J.J. Watt helps raise millions for Harvey victims.

Watt, of the Houston Texans, wanted to raise $200,000.

His fundraising efforts have generated $15 million.

Texas gospel singers belt out inspiration to Harvey evacuees.

“We wanna see your kingdom here,” Victoria White sang on Tuesday, delivering a robust version of “Spirit Break Out” at the Lone Star Convention & Expo Center in Conroe, Tex., about 40 miles north of Houston. For those whose homes and possessions may have been taken away in the deadly storm, White’s performance provided a reason to smile, if only for a moment.

Houston’s “Mattress Mack” turned his stores into shelters.

Known locally as the Mattress King of Houston and for his boisterous local TV ads (he actually wore a mattress in one), “Mattress Mack” McIngvale is stepping up to help his fellow Houstonians in need find safety, food and a warm place to sleep. He’s turned two of his popular stores into shelters and has organized volunteers and trucks to help rescue his fellow Houstonians.


Pets are being accommodated in Harvey rescue efforts,

Not all evacuation centers in Texas are accepting pets this week, but many are accommodating them in separate areas or coordinating with off-site shelters to house them. In San Antonio, for instance, a state-run reception center for Harvey evacuees routes pets to a city-run animal shelter, after assigning them and owners individual ID numbers that will help reunite them later.

Couple to cover D.C. adoption fees to help make room for pets displaced by Harvey.

Nationals star pitcher Max Scherzer and his wife, Erica May-Scherzer, have made it no secret that they love dogs — especially dogs in need. On Thursday morning, the Scherzers made one of their most generous promises yet, according the HRA, which announced on Twitter that the couple agreed to cover all adoption fees from Thursday until Sunday in an effort to spur animal adoption so that pets displaced by Harvey might have space if they end up in D.C.

Scientists offer help to labs hit by Harvey, even tending to their fruit flies,

“People moved by the wrenching scenes of devastation in Texas have been donating what they can to support communities that will have a long path to recovery. Add to the outpouring of support: lab space, supplies and offers to tend fruit flies or store cells.
“Already, more than 200 laboratories have volunteered to help, with specialties that span the gamut from virology to soft condensed matter physics.”