HISD teacher helps rescue Hurricane Harvey victims

HISD teacher helps rescue Hurricane Harvey victims
Posted on 09/08/2017

A Harlandale ISD teacher is now considered a hero for dedicating his time to rescue numerous families from the devastating floods in Houston caused by Hurricane Harvey.

It was the first day of school at the Jewel Weitzel Center when Special Education Science Teacher Estevan Salinas received a phone call asking him to report to Houston in six hours.

As a member of the Texas National Guard, Salinas knew this call would be happening soon as Hurricane Harvey was causing catastrophic flooding in Houston and its surrounding cities.

“It was hectic at first, but Ms. Tamaren is a great administrator. She’s always been supportive of me being in the military and having to miss school,” Salinas said. “With the great staff that we have here, and all the other teachers here, it made the transition really easy because I had to get up and go in a hurry. I left by 11 a.m.”

For the next week, Salinas joined a Water Rescue Team and worked alongside other units to rescue victims affected by the hurricane.

“We saw the rain that was hovering over Houston, and it just wreaked havoc on the city,” Salinas said. “We saw the devastation that it caused on people’s homes. We saved a lot of people, which was good.”

Salinas worked with various teams to perform night operations, which included going house to house to get people out safely. 

 “As an educator, it was difficult to see all the families with three or four children affected. Getting the kids help was our priority because they’re a lot more vulnerable,” Salinas said.

All of the rescued families were taken to Katy High School in Katy, Texas.

“It was chaotic to see hundreds of people crammed into a school. It was interesting just trying to feed them and put them into something to sleep,” he added. “It was nonstop work, day and night.”

Salinas arrived back home to San Antonio on Sept. 5 and feels grateful to have been able to help – an experience he will share with his students to teach them the importance of helping and serving others in a desperate time of need.

“I think it’s important to help your community, and I try to instill some values into our students,” Salinas said. “I think that selflessly serving others is an important part of building character, so if you have an opportunity to help, even if it’s something as donating food, clothing or just your time to go talk to people at the centers, help them out in any way that you can. I think that is a big lesson in life.” 

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