SPANISH CAMP - A Victoria couple who traveled to Fort Bend and Wharton counties to rescue flooded residents said they were just owning up to their heritage.
"We kept saying, 'This is just what Texas does,'" said Alison Jecker, 32.
Days after Hurricane Harvey's landfall, Jecker, boyfriend Mark Robinson, 34, and about a dozen other Crossroads residents along with their boats staged do-it-yourself rescue operations in the sunken city of Richmond and then Missouri City. Two days later, Becker and Robinson found themselves in Wharton County where they rescued abandoned dogs and other animals from almost certain death.
"The city looked like a giant lake with houses sticking up on it," Robinson said of their efforts in Richmond. "There were houses after houses after houses, and the water was halfway up their garage doors."
Aboard Robinson's 24-foot Simmons Custom Boat, a $92,000 craft key to his occupation as a fishing guide, they rescued about 20 residents, taking them from flooded homes to a triage site established by local authorities.
"We'd pull up, drop them off and turn around and come back to pick up some more," Robinson said.
But one particular rescue stuck in their minds.
After responding to a worried father who flagged the boaters down, the couple learned his son, a 3-year-old child with diabetes, faced a dire situation.
While Jecker, the co-owner of Victoria preschool KidVersity, worked to keep the child distracted, Robinson piloted the craft around sunken obstacles and into safety.
"I was just talking about how neat it was being on a boat," she said.
That conversation, despite Jecker's nerves, was successful in calming the child, she said. But the father's state of mind was another matter.
"At that point, his nerves were completely shot," she said. "I think he was in the middle of losing it."
Two days after arriving in Fort Bend County, Jecker and Robinson decided to take the boat to Houston proper, where they hoped to continue their work but were stymied by flooded highways. Instead, they made their way to Spanish Camp, an unincorporated Wharton County community inundated with freshly fallen floodwaters.
With much of the area already evacuated, the couple didn't find people in need of help, but there were animals.
There, they rescued about a dozen dogs, mostly abandoned pets, Robinson said, one of which, a black dachshund, reminded Jecker of her own pet, bringing tears to her eyes.
But a cow, lost from its herd and frantic with fear of the rushing water could not be saved.
The couple left that animal in the best situation they could - in shallow waters. For Jecker, who grew up raising and loving livestock, the tragedy was almost unbearable.
"It just ripped my heart out," she said.
The rescues by Jecker and Robinson, however admirable, came at no small risk, Robinson said. The Wharton County water ran swift and hid innumerable objects potentially deadly to swimmers and damaging to Robinson's boat, which is also his livelihood.
And all the while during their trip, the couple's respective houses waited for their return with flood and storm damage of their own.
Despite those risks, their duty as human beings compelled them to act.
"It was worth it just to do my part," Jecker said.