Particulate Matters: Heroes of Harvey
It doesn’t matter if you’re reading this from another part of the world. At this point, I’m pretty sure we’re all aware of Hurricane Harvey, the destructive swath it cut along the Texas Gulf Coast, and severe flooding it caused throughout the city of Houston, the fourth-largest city in the U.S.
I was at Scheid Diesel Extravaganza 2017 in Terre Haute, Indiana, on August 25, 2017, the night when, at 10 p.m., Harvey’s Category 4 winds made landfall in Rockport and Port Aransas, Texas. It’s important I let you all know upfront that I’m nowhere close to enough of a meteorologist to say with any authority that the storm somehow influenced the weather (and especially temperature) we experienced in Terre Haute at that time. But it was obvious to many SDX veterans that the climate that day and evening was uncharacteristically pleasant for a Scheid weekend. Ambient temperature wasn’t ridiculously hot during the day, and the air was cool enough for me to throw on a hoodie when the sun set. Given the way the hurricane performed over the course of almost a week, I wonder, was that climate anomaly we experienced just a weird side of Harvey’s global effect—nearly 1,500 miles to the north?
While I admit that notion is strange and quite far-fetched, the absolute havoc the storm’s heavy rain caused all over the city of Houston is definitely the sobering thing about Hurricane Harvey’s Texas visit. Watching the drama unfold on CNN and the Weather Channel, my emotions flip-flopped between sadness, anger, despair, and incredible anxiety, because I actually have family members who were affected by rising water (none of my folks were displaced, but their homes suffered damage nonetheless), and since Mother Nature was responsible for the whole ruckus, I knew there wasn’t a thing I could do to stop the downpour and subsequent flooding or assist loved ones and other people—including Diesel Power freelance contributor Stephen Kim and friends like Dorian Reyes of Power Stroke Enginuities—who desperately needed help.
Enter my buddy, Art Martinez of PSP Diesel in South Houston, and members of the large diesel community (as he calls it) in the Space City area and beyond. Almost immediately after confirming that his family, property, and PSP’s 17,000-square-foot shop facility were OK, Art took to the “airwaves” of social media via Facebook Live (as I’m sure many other diesel folks did), posting video messages to let folks know what he, his partner Richard Alvarado, and the entire crew at PSP (some of them affected by rising water) were doing to help victims of the storm, soliciting others to join them.
I watched as the groups Art assembled (including several members of the Houston Diesels truck club) answered the call with their diesel-powered Fords, GMs, and Rams, slogging their way all over the city and even out to the storm-devastated Gulf area, delivering desperately needed clothing, water, toiletries, food (for humans and pets), baby and essentials, and, for people who may have lost everything, assurance that concern and support were there. I know Art to be a genuinely humble person, and I can tell you none of his efforts to “make Houston great again” are done to gain notoriety or to intentionally be one of the many “heroes of Harvey” that I consider him to be. In this instance, he gave his all for the city he loves, tirelessly and directly from his heart.
First responders of law enforcement, fire departments, and military are definitely heroes of Harvey. As are the gang corralled by PSP and hundreds more diesel pickup owners and enthusiasts from Texas, Louisiana, Arizona, California, Missouri, Tennessee, and many other states—and the trucks themselves—who immediately went to lend Houstonians a helping hand. They’re all awesome folks who deserve thanks and high praise, and on behalf of the Diesel Power staff, I salute them!
“It’s about staying together, working together, and helping each other out,” Art says in one of his Facebook Live videos. I couldn’t agree more with that sentiment. As I write this, Hurricane Irma is churning through Florida. As Houston rebuilds, I can only pray that Mother Nature’s wrath limits the damage in the Sunshine State as Irma transitions to a less powerful, but still serious, tropical storm. But, as we all hope for the best, I think we know one thing is certain: The diesel community will be there in force to help wherever and however it’s necessary!