7 Houston Heroes of 2017
In the face of a natural disaster, many Houston Heroes stood up unafraid, arms outstretched to their neighbors
We love Texas. We love the sprawling state and the people that live in it. So much so that we named our bank after our Texas community.
But last year blew us away. Our Houston neighbors really outdid themselves. In the midst of one of the worst natural disasters in US history, Texans stepped up in a big way.
As soon as communities caught wind of someone in their neighborhood in need, they were there—by boat or canoe, military vehicle or monster truck. Highways were lined with trucks towing their own boats behind them—all headed for Houston. Just a month after the film Dunkirk, depicting the mass rescue evacuation of WWII soldiers by English citizens, a similar call went out to citizens of Texas and bordering states: Houstonians need rescuing.
From a sheer response and community aid perspective, Harvey was Houston’s Dunkirk. And like in the moving historical battle set on the English coast, Harvey had its own heroes, a few of which we wanted to recognize as our Houston Heroes of the Year. Please feel free to share your own 2017 Houston Heroes with us by posting this article on social media with your comments and @TexasCitizensBank—we know the list is endless.
Already a Houston hero for his work on the football field, JJ Watt used his platform to raise more than $37 million for Harvey victims in less than three weeks.
During the historic storm, the popular Texas supermarket chain kept its doors open. H-E-B employees made sure the shelves stayed stocked with essentials and even rolled out mobile kitchens and supply convoys. Without the staff’s strong resolve and willingness to get to stores in harsh conditions and work long shifts, not everyone would have had access to water and other necessary supplies.
“When you talk about a disaster such as Hurricane Harvey, we do everything we can to not only recover our stores but also recover our communities.” — Justen Noakes, Director of Emergency Preparedness, H-E-B; Houston Hero
Houston police officers
Fighting stage 4 colon cancer wasn’t enough to hold Norbert Ramón back from fighting Harvey. He worked alongside his coworkers to assist and rescue as many as they could. Another Houston officer, Sgt. Steve Perez, lost his life to the floodwaters on the Hardy Toll Way, attempting to get to work during the storm. Both went beyond the call of duty to help their communities.
“Our oath is to go out and protect and serve other people,” Ramón said. “You’re always concerned about other people. You don’t dwell on yourself.” —Houston Police Officer, Norbert Ramón; Houston Hero
Houston Independent School District (HISD)
Houston schools provided free breakfast, lunch, and dinner to families affected by the flood. Following the flood, the school district announced that they would be providing free meals to all HISD students for the entire 2017–2018 school year through the National School Lunch/Breakfast Program.
A beloved business owner in Houston, Jim McIngvale—“Mattress Mack”—turned his elevated furniture stores into shelters during Harvey. He later sent Hurricane Harvey first responders to Game 6 of the World Series in Los Angeles to watch their Houston home team take on the Dodgers.
At first we thought about choosing just one Astros player, perhaps the 2017 American League MVP, José Altuve. But what about his right hand man and number four in the lineup, Carlos Correa? Not to mention clutch performances from World Series MVP George Springer and Astros newcomer and crowd favorite Justin Verlander. As it turns out, the entire Astros team deserves praise for the hope and joy they brought Houstonians following the devastating storm. We needed a win.
Houston business owners
Last but not least, generous business owners all over Houston deserve recognition. Even when their own income sources were interrupted due to office and store closures, many offered up their facilities. Knowing their employees were facing incredible financial and mental stress, many provided extra compensation and PTO days to their employees.