Local Residents Help Hurricane Victims

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – As the extent of the devastation from Hurricane Harvey began to be seen, many volunteers from the Houston County area hooked up to their boat trailers and started to migrate south towards the treacherous conditions to offer their assistance, wherever it might be needed.

One of the many brave volunteers was Grapeland resident Jerry “Bubba” Sullivan. When he was asked about his experience, he initially declined to speak with The Messenger, but later said this wasn’t done for any type of recognition or reward. He stressed he was just like everyone else who ventured to Houston and only wanted to help those in need.

“It was the right thing to do. None of us that went down there did it for glory, it was just the right thing – to try and help people,” Sullivan said.

He explained officials had closed I-45 South in Spring and initially thought he might be able to get to Beltway 8 but water levels prevented the attempt.

As a result, Sullivan indicated “… we just worked both sides of the Spring-Cypress Road. We tried to go up Hardy (Tollway) to get closer to the Beltway, but we just couldn’t make it in.”

“I was shocked at how many guys from here were down there,” he added. “There were guys from Lufkin, another group of guys from Carthage and a big group of guys from Center. There were people from all over the state, but I was shocked at how many people from this little area were down there.”

I know they were overwhelmed by the actual event that’s going on, but I think they were just as overwhelmed by the response. There were so many folks down there it was hard to coordinate, but it was a neat moment watching all these folks from all over the state come together to help.

One of the moments that stood out for Sullivan was the initial view he saw when he drove into Harris County.

“I’m originally from Houston and I remember seeing the flood waters as we started getting close,” he explained “I remember thinking to myself, if the flood waters are out this far, just how bad is it?”

“When the call for help went out in Houston this little East Texas town showed up! When Houston asked for help, Grapeland showed up. I couldn’t count the boats and people from Grapeland and surrounding areas yesterday, but there were at least nine boats that I know of for sure – from Grapeland, Crockett and Houston County. It makes me proud to call Grapeland home,” he said.

Sullivan and his wife, Jamie, own and operate Small Fries eatery in Grapeland.

While she was unable to travel with her husband because of business commitments, Jamie Sullivan said she was in contact with her husband while he was in the flooded areas.

“He told me that (Grapeland resident) Evan Peterson was down there for a couple of days, but had to come back because he burned his boat motor up. One of the guys down in Houston talked to him and told him he would fix his boat for free, just for helping out,” she said.

“No one really wants any recognition,” she continued. “Everyone was really touched. We were talking over coffee this morning and we were amazed at how many people from Grapeland and Houston County were down there. “

“It got me to thinking, if that many people from Grapeland would drive two hours down to Houston to help total strangers – it gives me goose bumps just talking about it – what these people do for us? Friends, neighbors – it makes me proud to be a part of Grapeland. I don’t want to live anywhere else. I won’t leave,” she added.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.