By NEAL FARMER
Thank God for the Cajun Navy. People from Louisiana brought their air boats, bass boats and other floating devices and saved Houstonians in homes flooded by Hurricane Harvey before the Federal government could get started on relief effort. I will buy beers for those I meet in the Cajun Navy.
There also was a Bearkat Navy.
Klein High School Bearkat football coach Shane Hallmark saw a problem in his neighborhood near Louetta and Steubner-Airline and took action. His is a story mimicked in some form by high school football coaches throughout Houston.
Hallmark has a 17-foot boat that he uses for duck hunting. He saw that the water had flooded people’s dwellings in his subdivision and he wanted to assist.
“Our neighborhood flooded during the (2015) Tax Day Flood, but is wasn’t near this extreme,” Hallmark said. “Water came up to the cul-de-sac that my house is on. It did not flood us, but it came up to my home and made a perfect boat ramp.”
Hallmark has a couple of leaks that he was able to repair. So after that, he plunged into the water to see who he could assist.
“I was going to do my part and see if I could find anyone. I was really taken back by what I saw,” Hallmark said. “It was really tragic. The water had not fallen back. I saw families that lost everything. It was pretty hard for me to deal with.”
He saw people climbing out windows, getting on their roofs with their belongings and flagging him down.
He saved six families, or about 40 people, in seven trips.
There was some humor as the tragedy played out. One family said that they were staying no matter what. So Hallmark gave his cell phone number to them as they were leaning out the second-floor window just a few feet above the floodwaters. The family ended up calling him the next day to come and get them.
“We had already taken our boat out, and we went back and got them,” he said.
Another husband and wife said they were in their house for approximately 48 hours without power.
“They said they were stuck upstairs for two days without power. They said some thought that would be romantic, but they said it was not.”
Another man wanted to shut his second-story window after he was rescued, but Hallmark assured him that with eight feet of water already in the house it wouldn’t make any difference.
He saw current and former Bearkat football players whose families lost everything, many without flood insurance.
“Even if they had flood insurance, that is not going to cover what they lost,” he said. “Now they are worrying about their jobs, their children. It brings it back to me that I have been truly blessed.”
Hallmark said that the thing that kept playing over and over was how positive people were when he was rescuing them. Everyone was happy and no one complained, he said.
“Their courage and the way everyone handling this emotionally was good,” Hallmark said. “At the drop-off point, no one was crying. They were dropped off and said, ‘Let’s make it work,’ although I know inside they were crying.”
He helped drop people off at Champion Forest Baptist Church, where the Harris County Sheriff’s Department had the proper vehicles to take the evacuees to shelters. Many had family members at the church, and took them back to their homes that were unaffected by the flooding.
Hallmark said the positive outlook was what was impressive, and the silver lining that came out of the horrific events.
“Look at our country and everything that is going wrong, and then you see people helping people – brown, yellow, black, white,” he said “Houston has kind of showed the world the right way to do this thing. It’s a kick in the pants, but we are going to make it roll.”
With the opening week of football cancelled, Hallmark made another decision. He cancelled practice for a couple of days. But instead of letting his football team lay low, he sent them to help neighbors. It was to tear out sheet rock, pull up carpet, help haul heavy items to the curb in the morning, and then weight lifting at KHS in the afternoon. Football is known for teaching leadership, working as a team, and helping others, and the team experienced that — just not only on the football field this time. Other high schools followed suit. I was able to see photos on Facebook of football teams helping from St. Thomas, Kinkaid, Jersey Village, Cypress Ranch, Humble, Kingwood, Clear Creek, Katy, Katy Taylor, Sharpstown and many other. I also saw that Rice, Houston Baptist, University of Houston, Texas Southern and Prairie View A&M student-athletes turned out to help in their neighborhoods, volunteering their muscle. I also saw that the Houston Texans helped those who who affected.
Hallmark said he became introspective about the aftermath, which is still going on.
“There is a constant worry about your players,” Hallmark said. “And then you worry about football, which is not important in the grand scheme of things. At my age of 50, when you think you have seen it all, you have not seen it at all. It’s a real humbling experience to go out on your boat and see it for yourself.”
All over Houston, football players and all student-athletes are contributing to the experience. Like Hallmark said, last week was the time to cry; this week is the time to work. With or without the Bearkat Navy.
ONE LAST TIME RIPPING THE RANGERS – I am still seething that the Texas Rangers would not flip dates with the Astros after Hurricane Harvey. The three games in Houston after Hurricane Harvey would be played near the end of the season, and last week’s three game would have been played in Arlington, if what Astros president Reid Ryan requested came to fruition.
Rangers officials said it would be hard to set up the stadium on such short notice. But Tampa did. And St. Louis offered the same thing as Tampa. (And how did Tampa and St. Louis know that they were needed?) Then the franchise said it would not be fair to their fans who were planning on attending the games as originally scheduled. No, at that point in the season, the fans are Cowboys crazy and the few who attend the Rangers games at the end of the season know each other on a first-name basis.
I mean, the Rangers and Astros were both in Dallas when this decision to play in Florida was made, since the Astros could not fly into D-FW Airport because the Houston airports and major roads were closed. But then the two teams had to fly to Tampa for the three-game series. How asinine is that?
The Rangers offered to have all six games in question in Arlington, because they thought that would help with their playoff chances, according to reports out of Dallas. Tampa and St. Louis called and asked what they could do, no questions asked. Hell, the New York Mets – this past weekend’s opponent – called and said the same thing. New York agreed to combine Friday’s game to a hated double-header on Saturday so more water would recede and the contests could be played in Houston.
I did some checking and I found that some of my Dallas friends suggest that Rangers GM Jon Daniels is the one who had a power struggle with Nolan Ryan when Ryan was with the Rangers. Ryan left and came to Houston. It certainly appears that Daniels is still not letting go that he was the one blamed for Ryan leaving the Rangers. And he would not help Reid Ryan, Nolan’s son and current president of the Astros. If my sources are correct, and I tend to believe them.
Not only have the Rangers gone down as a franchise since Ryan left and came to Houston, but the Astros have gone up. And the criticism, except for some in the Dallas media, is almost universal that Daniels is who let it to come to this. Can you imagine the boos that the Rangers – who at least have pledged $1 million to relief efforts in Houston — will receive in Houston next year?
It looks like to me that the Rangers have now become the most-hated pro sports franchise in the country, ahead of the Cowboys and Yankees. And I did not think that was possible.
VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCES WHATABURGER: An officer from New York has a Whataburger for the first time while volunteering in Houston. He didn’t need to use his words.
BLIND FOOTBALL PLAYER CONTRIBUTE FOR USC: Southern California had a blind deep snapper for its first game of the year. And yes, it is a feel-good story.
NEW STAR TREK PREMIERS SEPT. 24 ON CBS: I am excited that the newest Star Trek TV series, “Discovery,” debuts on Sept. 24. It will have to go a long way to being better than Deep Space 9 – the greatest of all Star Treks – but I am willing to give it a chance.
AND IN OUR EFFORT TO REMAIN NON-PC: Here are the hottest women to play roles on the original Star Trek series.
DETROIT FREE PRESS’ REPORTING OF VERLANDER TRADE: The Detroit Tigers’ brass thought that the Verlander trade to Houston was dead.
FEMALE QUARTERBACK THROWS TD: A 16-year-old female quarterback in Florida threw a TD on her first pass attempted in a high school game.
AGGIES AND LONGHORNS AND BEARS, OH MY: The Aggies blew a 34-point lead and lost to UCLA, and the Longhorns couldn’t keep up with Maryland. I would have to say the one the was the worst for the state was the Longhorns, because Maryland isn’t supposed to be very good. At least UCLA has Josh Rosen, a quarterback who is projected to be a good pro player. Also, Baylor loses to little-known Liberty.
What has happened to football in Texas? Should we become a baseball state?
CLASSICAL NOTES: Third movement of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3. I first heard this done with electronic music, instead of stringed instruments. Both versions are powerful chamber music pieces.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It was ordinary people put in extraordinary circumstances.” From the 1980 Australian film Breaker Morant, one of the best films ever made that you never heard of and applies to all the heroes in Houston during Harvey. (Breaker Morant received 100 percent positive reviews by professionals on Rotten Tomatoes.)
HOTTIE OF THE DAY:
The Player to be Named Later in the Verlander trade?