Flood-experienced Calgary man leads rescue patrol in Texas
Published Wednesday, August 30, 2017 10:47PM EDT
The floodwater is starting to recede in many parts of the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast as Harvey weakens to a tropical depression, but the need for volunteers remains strong.
In Houston, city officials are cautiously planning to resume basic municipal functions like public transit and trash removal as efforts begin to transition from rescue to recovery.
Forty-five kilometres west, in the small city of Katy, Texas, Calum Neff has been leading a volunteer-driven neighbourhood patrol for the past four days. The 33-year-old jumped in his small boat the moment the flood hit.
“We started organizing resources that we had in the community to go and get these people out,” he told CTV News. “We just realized how many people needed help.”
He moved to the region from Calgary a few years ago, bringing with him vital experience he gained while helping with search-and-rescue operations in the aftermath of a devastating flood that struck that city in 2013. He was also in the U.S. when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. Both disasters left a lasting impression.
“You kind of just start prioritizing things in your life, and suddenly a lot of things are just not so important anymore,” he said.
The group also tracks down abandoned boats for emergency crews to use.
Neff, a father of three, said he will not rest until the crisis is over and his community is safe.
Dealing with the devastation left by the storm day after day, his thoughts are often with his family. He said his wife fully supports his mission to keep people safe.
“She told me last night (that) she saw my true colours come through.”
With a report from CTV’s Melanie Nagy in Katy, Texas