Canyon graduate braves Harvey floods, uses boat to rescue stranded victims
On one side of him, a once peaceful bayou that flowed quietly now could not be distinguished from the rush of rain which had overtaken it and flooded five feet into the streets. On his other side, white S.O.S. flags from windows and rooftops appeared as filthy water slowly filled up homes. Looking through an app, Zello, he found people needing help and set off through the streets of Houston in his boat to bring another family to safety.
Dr. Lance McClintock, a chiropractor in Houston and a 2004 Canyon High graduate, with the help of his wife Megan, utilized his boat to rescue victims trapped by the flooding left by Hurricane Harvey.
“Before the storm hit Friday night, they were calling for the storm to roll up to the Houston area and we were going to get a lot of rain,” McClintock said. “Some people were panicking and going to the stores and grabbing everything off the shelves, but then you have the people who were saying ‘It’s hitting 200 miles away. Is it really going be that bad for Houston?’”
A lot of people were trying to frantically get out of their homes”
— Dr. Lance McClintock
McClintock said he did not think the storm would be anything to worry about, but he still wanted to be prepared.
“We went out and got extra food and water,” McClintock said. “We have a neighbor who has a generator in case we lost power, although I didn’t anticipate losing power. Our area doesn’t typically lose power.”
Because he did not expect the storm to hit the Houston area, McClintock did not retrieve his boat from his storage unit before it began raining.
“My wife was a little more concerned than I was,” McClintock said. “Before the storm she said ‘Oh, go get the boat,’ but I was thinking, ‘That’s ridiculous, I’m not gonna go get the boat. It’s not going to be that bad.’ She was right, and I was wrong on that.”
McClintock said he did not think anyone fully expected or anticipated how much rain hurricane Harvey would bring to Houston.
“It was pretty surreal to see and imagine a young family going through the hurricane,” McClintock said. “All different people with different backgrounds were affected and to get back to the normal way of life might be years or never.”
McClintock went for a bike ride Saturday afternoon, and the hurricane came to Houston Saturday night.
“Around 9 or 10 Saturday night, the rain started coming into Houston for us,” McClintock said. “I went on a bike ride and rode down the bayou, which ended up flooding greatly over the next 12 hours. It rained incredibly hard, but in our particular area of town the water never even reached the curb.”
Although McClintock’s neighborhood was spared, other neighborhoods were not.
“The next day, I woke up, went for a drive and was thinking ‘It’s not that horrible’” McClintock said. “Then, I went on one block over and across these railroad tracks, and 5 feet of water was in the streets. It was much worse in certain areas. The bayou I was riding by earlier had overflowed into those neighborhoods. “
Homes began flooding in the middle of the night until 11 a.m. the next morning, and many lost power.
“A lot of people were trying to frantically get out of their homes,” McClintock said. “I would see them using whatever would float in order to wade through the water to walk out of the neighborhood.”
McClintock got his boat out of storage Sunday and began making boat rescues in it and two kayaks.
“The first rescue was a family that we knew, so it was a no-brainer,” McClintock said. “The husband was in London, so the wife and kids were unable to get out. They called us and asked us to get them out. We took the kayaks, loaded them and went back out. They were very scared and needed some help.”
McClintock said technology played a role in helping people get to safety quickly.
“What really got me out and around town that next morning was my wife downloaded an app called Zello,” McClintock said. “It’s basically a walkie talkie app, and it can have different pages set up, so there was a search and rescue and minor emergency page.”
It reminded me not to put as much value in objects and things and to focus on relationships with friends, family and God.”
— Dr. Lance McClintock
McClintock said listening to calls through Zello made him want to use his boat to evacuate more people.
“After you listen to a few of those calls, your heart really goes out to these people,” McClintock said. “My wife was an operator taking calls. If there were people that needed to be rescued they would tag themselves on a map and the tag would have a phone number attached to it, so she would call the phone number and ask them what they needed.”
McClintock said his boat was an asset because of its flat bottom.
“It could go in shallow water or deep water,” McClintock said. “Unfortunately for the Coast Guard, there were so many people needing to be rescued that they didn’t have enough resources.”
McClintock said he wanted to help however he could.
“We went out to a house that was about one block from the bayou and all the power was out on the streets,” McClintock said. “We picked up a family and started making our way back. At that time the current was running pretty ugly back into the bayou. Luckily, the national guard trucks showed up, so they were able to put that family in those trucks and take them to safety from there.”
McClintock said he saw sad situations while making rescues.
“A lot of people lost a lot of stuff, and many of those people didn’t have flood insurance,” McClintock said. “Some very nice houses flooded. It wasn’t just the poor areas that flooded; it was the upper middle class and wealthy areas as well. The flood really did not discriminate across wealth areas.”
McClintock said he learned the importance of placing value in relationships over things through Hurricane Harvey.
“The last couple of days we spent just getting back into houses and just taking folks back into their houses,” McClintock said. “People throw as much stuff into the boat as they can, so during that time you realize that stuff is just stuff.”
McClintock said relationships are what truly matter to him.
“There’s a limited amount of things that are irreplaceable and mean a lot to you,” McClintock said. “It reminded me not to put as much value in objects and things and to focus on relationships with friends, family and God.”
McClintock said it was meaningful to watch everyone come together to help those affected by the hurricane.
“I don’t know anyone who wasn’t affected by the flood or wasn’t helping someone who was affected,” McClintock said. “The outpouring of community has been indescribable and overwhelming at times. You know you see the 3 million Houstonians helping the 1 million affected. It’s incredible.”