Hurricane Harvey’s impact continues to cause widespread devastation, with people having lost things such as cars, homes and lives in what The Washington Post has called “the most extreme rain event in U.S. history.”
The pictures tell the story: with whitecaps on the freeways, life-threatening flooding and daily rescues, these are extremely serious circumstances that no one should brush off or overlook. Bearing that in mind, we are collecting the stories of people who went to work anyway, usually out of economic necessity and sometimes to seek safety or try to help others. Here are a few of their stories.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) August 30, 2017
Bread for everyone
A group of bakers at a Mexican bakery in Texas were stuck at work for two days amid the flooding. Workers used more than 4,000 pounds of flour to make sweet bread, called pan dulce, for those affected by the storm, the mayor and police in the area— and for free, according to Chicago’s WGN-TV.
Brian Alvarado, who manages the South Wayside Drive location, told The Independent about what happened.
“When they realised they were stuck, they decided to keep themselves busy and help the community and made as many loaves of bread as they could…By the time the owner managed to get to them, they had made so much bread that we took the loaves to loads of emergency centres across the city for people affected by the floods…” he told the publication.
The bakery even posted about what happened on its Facebook page.
Hurricane Harvey pan dulce we are going to take to those in need. Bakers we're stuck inside for two days! We will announce when we open our stores again.
This video on their page also shows people scooping up the bread.
The reality of working for a newspaper
Journalists at the Houston Chronicle risked dangerous conditions to keep it running, and Poynter wrote about the details.
— Kathryn Varn (@kathrynvarn) August 31, 2017
Similarly, people in the newsroom of the Victoria Advocate in Texas reportedly brought their pets to work as they covered Hurricane Harvey.
— Kristen Hare (@kristenhare) August 30, 2017
Wading through the flood waters
A 60-year-old woman walked to her job at a hotel through waist-deep water because she couldn’t afford to miss a day of work — a reality for many workers.
Note that today is the 12-yr anniversary of Katrina's landfall. Here's Gloria Quintanilla in Houston, making her way through Harvey's flood. pic.twitter.com/biHGMOTA21
— julieturkewitz (@julieturkewitz) August 29, 2017
A deadly commute
Especially for those with core social functions, showing up to work during a hurricane seems like a necessity. But it can be deadly. Among those who passed away was a 60-year-old, 34-year veteran Houston police sergeant named Sgt. Steve Perez, who reportedly lost his life when he drowned during his commute. His body was located Tuesday.
Police Chief Art Acevedo reportedly said Perez “spent about 2½ hours driving around trying to get to his duty station.” The sergeant started his commute to work at around 4 a.m. on Sunday when it was still dark out. His car was stuck in high water and he didn’t survive the trip.
It’s understandable that hospital workers would be called in to work during the storm, as the numbered of injured and those requiring medical attention grew. Those workers, however, faced overwhelming weather conditions.
Pizza Hut drops off pies to those in need— by kayak
Shayda Willison, who manages a Pizza Hut location in Texas, got people together to make more than 120 pies, which were then delivered to people via kayak in a flooded neighborhood, according to FOX 4. She expects to do this until there’s nothing left at her location.
“They were so happy to see us coming down their street…You never let your family go hungry,” she said. Those kayaking delivery people, however, are risking their lives as well.
Chick-Fil-A to the rescue
An older couple were trying to leave their home in Texas as it flooded, and dialed their local Chick-fil-A (they are reportedly “regulars”). The manager sent her husband to get them in a boat, ABC News reported. As they were sorting out what to bring in the boat, people on jet skis came by to help them, and they were off.
“We had to get out of there so I called Chick-fil-A, now that sounds kind of funny…I ordered two grilled chicken burritos with extra egg and a boat. And can you believe that one of the managers of Chick-fil-A, she sent her husband to pick us up and we are so grateful,” J.C. Spencer reportedly said in an interview on “Good Morning America” Wednesday.
The couple got to meet their jet ski rescuers again recently, when they finally learned their names. And those Chick-Fil-A delivery people were, like the Pizza Hut kayakers, risking their lives on the job to get food delivered.
Waffle House is reportedly known for staying open, even in the most harrowing conditions, and The Federal Emergency Management Agency relies on the Waffle House Index to assess how bad a storm is, NPR reports, citing Yahoo Finance.
It’s also worth pointing out that its hours are 24 hours a day, seven days a week— but even so, two Houston-area locations had to close because of the storm, while 30 in the city stayed open. Menus were also scaled back.
This is what Waffle House does in the case of a bad storm.
— Chris Stelmarski (@ski) August 31, 2017
The company, which, like many, has employees who works on tips, also promised to make up the lost tips of employees working during the storm.
— Ethan Wolff-Mann (@ewolffmann) August 31, 2017
Some Twitter users were firm that they did not appreciate being asked to get to work during the hurricane.
Me callin in to work during Hurricane Harvey cause MY LIFE is more important than UR MONEY. pic.twitter.com/RzBzPst2Q3
— ༺ Ansem ༻ (@aansemm) August 26, 2017
— k a l y n (@kal_danielle) August 24, 2017
Super cool, what a great company. pic.twitter.com/d806GGA1ST
— ☆ Guillermo ☆ (@yourbudolo) August 25, 2017
Keep your eyes open
Some employers stopped endangering their workers, with UPS and FedEx reportedly stopping their delivery services to parts of Louisiana and Texas because of the hurricane.
This HuffPost piece provides perspective on what it can be like when flood waters meet homes, based on interviews with people whose homes flooded during Hurricane Harvey in Houston and storms in other cities.
CNN also has tips for those currently in flooded areas of Texas.