Waco: Rescuers remember joy, fear, and perseverance

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Members of a team of local volunteers that headed to the coast to help rescue residents stranded by floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey experienced moments of joy, fear and perseverance.

The team of volunteers. (Staff photo)

Waco police Commander Scott Holt and Officer Garen Bynum were just two of 18 volunteers who headed to the Texas coast with 11 trucks, two trailers, six boats and a four-wheeler to help however they could after Hurricane Harvey swept ashore.

The first couple the volunteers came into contact with near New Caney, had been waiting to be rescued for more than 24 hours.

A crew was able to get them and their dogs out of the water safely.

In Kingwood, a Houston suburb, they found an assisted living center full of residents and water.

“Once we found it everything changed at that point it was all hands on deck for that,” Bynum said.

It took hours to get residents down three flights of stairs, out the door and into boats.

The members of the group weren’t sure where they would end up staying, but a family in Conroe opened their home to the volunteers, and neighbors stepped up, too.

“The fact that (the) whole neighborhood jumped in and helped out cooking for us. To have a fresh meal and hot shower that night after Kingwood that was refreshing," said Bynum.

The next day the crew took on several high water rescues in the Beaumont area, which received 54 inches of rain.

"We had such a diverse group with us that had such experience and different things that we were also able to help the emergency management folks in Jefferson County because they had never experienced something like that,” Bynum said.

Neither had anyone in the crew, which is why it left such an impact.

Chonna Colburt, owns Infamous Ink in Waco with her husband Zac.

Their shop started donating the proceeds of special Texas Strong tattoos to a Harvey relief fund, but even after raising $5,000 they still wanted to do more.

They drove to Beaumont to join the rescue effort.

So did the owners of Cornerstone Plumbing who brought us 300 gallons of gas for the team’s trucks and boats.

The experience so deeply affected the volunteers that Holt later called Chonna to set a date to get his own Texas Strong tattoo.

When asked what he will think about when he looks at it, he responded, “Joy, fear, heartache, difficult times struggles, and perseverance.”