Answering the Call

Academy Staff Rescue Stranded Houston Residents

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Dallas » There was nothing typical about Hurricane Harvey. As the storm hit Rockport, Texas, at peak intensity, many prayed it would move out of the state quickly. Unfortunately, that was not the case. When Josh Jetter, North Dallas Adventist Academy athletic director, watched the news footage of residents stranded by rapidly rising water he knew he needed to help. Jetter phoned fellow staff member Rob Parrish, the school chaplain, and a fishing buddy to ask them to go with him. 

“I would have left that night,” Jetter shared with a laugh, “but I knew we needed to make arrangements for time off from school.”

Granted the time, Jetter arranged to borrow a boat from a friend. “I’ve been boating most of my life so had the knowledge to feel good about going down there,” Jetter stated. “I normally drive a bass boat, but the jet boat has propulsion to move smoother.”

The men arrived to destruction not easily conveyed on television or social media. The amount of water and damage seen there was almost unbelievable. 

“We were in houses that lost everything and people didn’t want to leave,” Jetter exclaimed, disbelief in his voice at the memory. “They would ask us to lock up their houses or even come back later because they didn’t want to leave behind everything they had.”

The men were given the task to rescue any of the 179 residents in an assisted living facility. They waded through the water that had pretty much covered the building, looking for anyone. “Tuesday was the worst day,” Jetter said, letting out a quick breath. “In Kingswood, the water was rising half a foot every hour.”

When asked how many people they rescued, “There’s no set number,” Jetter stated. “We were just thinking, ‘Who could we help the fastest?’” It was no easy task when it seemed that everything was against them, with dams and a levee in the area overflowing.

Despite the physical toil, they returned to their day jobs with Houston and its residents not far from their minds. Jetter and Parrish shared their experience with their students and were heart-warmed to receive such positive feedback. “Rob and I do worship every morning,” Jetter explained. “I talked about stepping outside the boundaries and helping people. Hearing the students say ‘Coach, Pastor Rob, you did a good job!’ It’s such a good thing to hear.”

Hundreds of volunteers went to Houston to help. Many of them were from outside the state and most of them were surprised to see these humble men from Dallas who were merely answering the call they received from a higher power. “God wanted us to go,” Jetter remarked. Indeed, many people were unable to make it to Houston to help with several roads closed due to water, debris and damage. Yet, these men were able to go to Houston and show people there how God wants us to always help our fellow man in good times and in bad times.

For Parrish, the trip left him contemplative. “We all have storms in our lives. It was nice to be able to make an immediate impact with this storm.” He also noticed the unity this disaster provided. “You see the destruction, yes, but you also see the unity,” Parrish said with pride in his voice. “People showing up, volunteers with boats and just a whole lot of hope.” Hope—something the residents affected by Hurricane Harvey desperately needed.

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