Defying Hurricane Winds to Deliver Food and Water:METRO employee's 19 hour
September 25, 2005
As Houston skies darkened and the Hurricane-force winds of Rita bore down on
Houston early Friday evening, three METRO employees went outdoors on a mission
of mercy that ended some 19 hours and many harrowing miles later.
The first call came in about 5pm: people taking temporary shelter at the
Houston Community College (HCC) on Holman were without water. Enter METRO's
Kenneth Bell, Allen Burks and Robert Kelly, who had access at Houston TRANSTAR
to an 18 wheeler loaded with bottled water. First stop: HCC, where 2 pallets of
H2O were dropped off.
The second call came from Sam Houston High School, at Irvington and the Hardy
Toll Road. An estimated 600 people had taken refuge there to get out of the
storm, tired and thirsty. Three pallets of water were dropped off there.
Homeland Security called next with a request to deliver more water and now
food to a Rita-spawned shelter at the Civic Center in Humble. The tractor
trailer was empty by this point and required replenishment at a Salvation Army
warehouse on Fannin near AstroWorld. With the help of METRO recruits Mark
Rawlinson and Booker Terrell and two fork lifts, pallets of food and water were
loaded, filling half the truck. By this time, after midnight, the storm was in
full swing in the Houston area and the goodwill warriors got a massive 13-ton
METRO wrecker truck as insurance for getting back to base if high winds
overturned the water truck. About 300 souls at the Civic Center shelter welcomed
the food and water.
Next stop: A church shelter west across town at Hwy. 290 and Jones Road. The
heroes didn't know how many people they helped there.
They finished their mission and returned to TRANSTAR about 3am Saturday. A
few hours later they were joined by METRO employee Dale Ward and took to the
streets again, this time with chain saws, to clear about 12 trees blown onto
streets needed to open priority bus routes.
Their "day" ended about 3 pm Saturday.