LIT students save Beaumont residents from Imelda’s flood waters
BEAUMONT - When Tropical Storm Imelda arrived slightly more than two years after Hurricane Harvey, with little warning, three Lamar Institute of Technology students immediately knew what they had to do.
They rushed into action, selflessly offering hours of nonstop help to victims, despite the fact that three of them were in the midst of losing their own homes. One had lost his home to Harvey, and again, to Imelda.
First-year Instrumentation Technology students Jaron Cooper and Blake Lawrence, and Regional Fire Academy Cadet Taylor Talbert disregarded their own personal losses, and in many cases, safety.
Cooper, 18, of Vidor, said as soon as he saw water quickly surround his house and the feeder roads, he grabbed about nine neighborhood friends and hopped into trucks to help rescue cars that were stuck in fast-moving waters at the underpasses. Later that night they retrieved a friend’s boat.
Cooper, who is a certified lifeguard, “loves that feeling of just being able to help.” He estimated they spent 15-20 hours (many without sleep or food) helping about 50 people to safety from Wednesday night through Friday.
Imelda didn’t affect his house, but it did friend Blake Lawrence’s…twice. Lawrence had moved in with his grandmother after Harvey displaced him, and “was a month away from moving back into” his residence, Cooper said.
Cadet Talbert, 29, whose home was in Fannett, said he left with his wife and daughter when water rose quickly and it was no longer safe to stay. They were brought to Grace Community Church in Fannett. He worked tirelessly Thursday and that night, evacuating families.
“Helping others was less of a decision and more of a natural response to disaster,” Talbert said. “God has given me a calling to help those in need in and around my community. I am beyond blessed to be where I am and receive training from the incredible instructors at LIT’s Fire Academy.”