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Harvey responders from Utah receive thanks, recall Katrina

HOUSTON — As they worked to help more people get out of their water-logged homes, members of Utah’s Task Force One received thanks from members of the community. A resident bought them snacks at a convenience store southwest of Houston, telling KSL Television he simply wanted to let responders know how much he appreciated them.

The task force has been at work since Sunday, boarding boats to help rescue people still impacted by flood waters.

Unified Fire Captain Steve Schaugaard, a task force member, also worked in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2017.  He said it’s difficult to compare the two right now.

“I’m guessing when the water recedes, it’s going to be similar,” he said.

Following Katrina, the task force was involved in door-to-door searches for victims.  He said they have not reached that phase yet in Texas.

While professionals like Utah’s Task Force One continued to work on rescues, so did a flotilla of volunteers who flooded the area with boats following the storm.  They took to the water again on Wednesday after waters from reservoir releases flooded new areas.

In other parts of the storm-impacted area, people were able to return to their damaged homes.  Sara Brown lives about a mile from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Houston Temple.  She got some help cleaning up from fellow church members.

“We knew we were going to be coming back to devastation,”  Brown said.

Her home was flooded by several feet of water in places. But Brown said her LDS bishop insisted on bringing people to the home on Wednesday to begin the clean-up process.   A pair of sister-missionaries was also there and said they expect to be doing similar work for a long time.

Brown’s daughter, Anna, was overwhelmed by the response.

“I don’t think people know the impact they’re having,” she said.  “Even the people who pulled us out of the house the other day, and the people at the gas station who offered us a ride when our friends couldn’t come pick us up, all these people who’ve helped us don’t realize how big of an impact they’re having.”