Following the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey, two members of the San Gabriel Police Department – Officer Martin Garcia and Detective Timothy Logan – traveled to Houston to help aid in the city’s immediate recovery efforts.
“I saw all the devastation on the news, so I just had this strong urge to help out,” Detective Logan said. “I originally got into law enforcement to help people, and after seeing what happened, I requested time off work, hopped on a plane and went out there after speaking to a colleague at the Alhambra Police Department.” After arriving to Austin, Logan and his colleague drove to Houston to participate in a Harris County task force. “For the first few hours, we mainly responded to service calls with a military-style vehicle that could traverse through the flood waters,” Logan said. “The water had been up for so long that much of it had been contaminated with sewage.”
While Detective Logan would drive to the scene, Officer Garcia traveled to Houston via plane as part of a coordinated effort by a national non-profit. “After notifying my family, I called my supervisor for some time off,” Martin Garcia said. “They essentially said ‘do what you need to do,’ and I was off.” From there, Garcia traveled to Houston as part of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, which is nationwide network of chaplains who are trained to address crisis situations. After some basic coordination, Garcia arrived to Houston on the first inbound flight to the city after the hurricane had struck. “I expected to see and hear what I was seeing on television, but when you actually get there, you have all your senses working,” Garcia said. “You smell it, you touch it – this really brings every detail about the incident together”
To combat the stresses of an ever-evolving environment, Garcia and the other chaplains provided emotional support around the clock for those devastated by Hurricane Harvey, visiting a total of three shelters. “We’re trained to deal with trauma and the different grieving stages," Garcia said. Garcia would also be deployed at the Houston Police Officer’s Association building to provide counseling for first responders. “We just talked to them, and we wanted to let them know that people across the country were there thinking about them.”
Indeed, many from across the nation had traveled to Houston to help participate in the relief efforts at their own expense. “Many officers were coming in on their own time and their own expense from all across the nation,” Logan said. “It seemed like every law enforcement group in Texas was there, along with many outside the state,” Garcia noted. “I went to Houston with 50 other chaplains from across the United States. It was real humbling to see.”
Despite the hurricane's devastating effects, both Martin and Logan noted the resilience of both residents and first responders. “You just see the best of humanity in the worst of times,” Logan said. “I just know that we ever experienced a disaster over here, we would have a similar response from all over the country."