HOUSTON — Amid the chaos and tragedy of Hurricane Harvey and ensuing flooding in the Houston area, several TreadWright Inc. employees were helping with the civilian rescue efforts in the city the week of Aug. 25.
Treadwright, a Houston-based retreader of light truck tires, was closed for several days during the height of the flooding and warned customers of shipping delays due to flooded roadways.
While the shop was shuttered, some employees were helping neighbors and involved in volunteer efforts, according to Derrest Williams, TreadWright's director of marketing and ecommerce.
"A few of us have been out on boats trying to help the most flooded communities around Houston," he told Tire Business on Aug. 27.
"We have me and a few other guys on our team and some friends in the city, and we actually went out to some of the more affected areas. We pulled people out of apartments and houses, and we went to a nursing home, and we actually helped evacuate about 100 people out of a nursing home," he said.
By midweek, some of the flood waters had receded, but there were still many flooded areas, he said.
"Houston is pretty much like a bunch of islands, so you can drive in certain spots and then hit a block of two or three neighborhoods that were under water."
He and fellow volunteers used flat-bottomed boats from an Austin rental business to join other civilians and government agencies in evacuation efforts. He said their boats were sometimes driving in as much as 14 feet of water in the city.
He said the government needed civilian volunteers because the agencies didn't have enough boats for the number of people needing help.
The volunteers corresponded through a dispatch channel and Google maps to coordinate rescues at homes and apartment buildings.
"It was a fluid situation. It was pretty chaotic at first, but the civilians got together and we kind of organized as quickly as possible. It actually turned out to be a pretty good way of notifying people," Mr. Williams said.
"When you see street signs flooded and you see the second floor of apartment complexes flooded and getting people out that way, that was pretty crazy."
As of Aug. 27, Mr. Williams had been involved in rescues for three days. He said the most gratifying part of the experience was how everyone worked together to help each other.
"You have all these politics going on, a lot of right vs. left, a lot of racial divide or at least that's how the media tries to make it portrayed.
"But when we went out there, there was probably 40-45 different boats all in this area helping these elderly people (at the nursing home) from all different races. It was definitely something everybody definitely enjoyed because it kind of got away from splitting everybody apart and more towards bringing people together, and we're all trying to help each other out. Just in general, all the civilians that came out to help was incredible."
TreadWright is not stopping with evacuation assistance they are also giving with their pocket books. This year for Labor Day not only are they offering 5% off with code "HOUSTONSTRONG," but they are also donating a portion of every sale to American Red Cross to support Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.