Hurricane Harvey hit Texas on Saturday, taking lives and leaving hundreds of thousands without power. Once the storm downgraded to Tropical Storm Harvey, even more damage was done, bringing in unprecedented flooding and raising the death toll to eight, a number expected to rise. In Houston alone, an estimated 30,000 will be forced to flee their homes and seek shelter; 450,000 others will require some sort of disaster assistance.
But, in response, the resilient and courageous people of Texas have sprung into action. The state has witnessed inspiring examples of heroism and unity from its citizenry — including teenage boys with nothing more than a small fishing boat and a paddle board.
Seventeen-year-old Thomas Edwards and his three friends, Richard Dickason, 17, Liam Connor, 17, and his brother Declan Connor, 15, were some of those heroes. The boys, all high school students at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston, spent hours rescuing stranded Texans in a small fishing boat. Edwards estimates the crew saved over 50 people, not to mention numerous pets.
Edwards told The Daily Wire that he woke up to find the massive flooding; his truck was nearly completely submerged and one-story houses all around him had water all the way up to their doors. Instead of feeling fear or sorry for himself (as any typical 17-year-old might feel after they see their truck under water), Edwards and his pals took this hardship as a cue to help others.
The day before the storm, the boys picked up Declan's fishing boat from Galveston, Texas. This was the perfect vehicle to save some folks.
"Once the boat began to float on the trailer we decided to venture out," Edwards told The Daily Wire. "We could hear people screaming for help and we towed a paddle board behind us so we could fit more people on the boat. We began to pick people up and take them to a local Krogers, where other evacuees sought refuge. We were the only boat in the neighborhood until 2 o’clock, and we motored back and forth making trips to rescue as many people as we could."
The boys began working in collaboration with local firefighters, police officers, and rescue workers, saving at least 50 people, said Edwards. "Neighbors would tell us addresses or point in directions to where they heard people yelling from," he recalled.
"We rescued families, babies, dogs, rabbits, you name it," explained the 17-year-old. "My friend Liam and I would stay on the paddle board and pull the boat across the intersection in order to unload people closer to the Kroger parking lot. It was an incredibly surreal experience to take a boat down streets while trying to dodge sunken cars and overhanging tree limbs."
Edwards noted that the boys caught a second wind when local photojournalist Mark Mulligan of the Houston Chronicle posted photos of their rescue efforts.
"People were calling us patriots, fine young men, and heroes," he said. "All of these comments bolstered our morale and let us know that what we were doing did not go without recognition, although we would have done so regardless."
One comment really resonated with Edwards: "Someone said that in times like these, differences don’t matter because we are all in the same predicament."
"On our last trip, we drove back towards the house and passed by 5 national guard trucks, which gave me and Declan a feeling of relief," noted the teen.
"I thought it was incredibly valiant to see how the whole community banded together to save one another," added Edwards.
Selfless young men like Edwards, Dickason, and the Connor brothers are shining examples of what makes America so great. These young men didn't see race, religion, sex, or political affiliation, they saw fellow Americans in need and acted accordingly.