And then the average dude with a bass boat showed up

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

The top story for a very long time around here will be Hurricane Harvey, and how we handled the aftermath – the courage, the self-giving, the community spirit. To a large extent, it is a story about the average dude with a bass boat.

That’s the story that is being told over and over on local, national and even international news.

The heroes are countless: the volunteers at rescue sites, shelters and food distribution areas, those who donated to the relief agencies, those who went out of their way to help someone in need and those who helped to inform others.

This is probably the biggest flooding event in 1000 years. We have not seen anything of this magnitude before and probably never will again. The fourth largest city in the Unites States and surrounding areas got pounded with 51 inches of rain for three days. It was of Biblical proportions.

You would expect looting. There was some. You would expect first responders working around the clock to rescue as many flood victims as they could. They did that. You would expect FEMA to come down here and start its process of helping with the recovery. You would expect the president to come down.

In Texas, you would expect one more thing: Neighbors helping each other and helping strangers, because that’s the right thing to do. And that is why the average dude with his bass boat showed up.

He went into neighborhoods that were inaccessible by car, where people were trapped and the water was rising, and where authorities could not be because there were too many of these areas. And he brought the people trapped by high water to safety. This happened so many times in so many places that the news could not keep up with the hero stories.

It was a humongous outpouring of selflessness. Volunteers risked their own safety and used their own equipment on their own time to help those who were in danger. And when the waters started receding, the average dude with a bass boat put his boat back on the trailer and left.

Nobody asked for him to show up and help. Nobody told him what to do.Often he had no idea where he was, in what neighborhood, or on what street. The average dude with a bass boat just knew that people needed help, and he risked his own safety to help.

There were thousands of them. With their actions they turned the nature of the news reports from desperation to hope and community spirit. It was contagious. The dudes with their bass boats and all others who rushed to help set the tone for what was to come. The news followed them around, telling one heroic story after another.

And the world watched in amazement and admiration. They may have expected a repetition of New Orleans 2005, but got an incredible success story instead.

Why are you doing this,” asked the reporter.

“Because these people need help. It’s the right thing to do,” replied the average dude with a bass boat.
Then the headlines started running:

On dinghies and jet skis, volunteer flotilla comes to Houston - Reuters

This Texas man has a boat - and mission: ‘Go save some lives’ - CNN

Flood of ‘Texas Navy’ private citizens help in Houston rescue efforts - NPR

Yes, there were tragedies. Bodies were recovered. But how worse would the situation have been had the average dude with a bass boat not shown up?

So, average dude with a bass boat, and everyone else who pitched in to make this drastic event less drastic, pat yourselves on the shoulder. You did a great job. And we all thank you for what you did.

You know what this means, dear reader, who has been wanting to buy a boat for a long time. Next time you get that urge, don’t let your wife talk you out of it. Do it because it’s the right thing to do.