I am not sure where to begin thanking all of you and many others who worked tirelessly to get Houston through the worst flooding ever recorded in Houston, Texas.
As HPD Executive Assistant Chief Slinkard said when asked if he had ever seen such a flood, “I read about one in the first book of the Bible.” It was truly an incredible flood, but the Houston Police Department, its leaders and the citizens of this great city really and truly shined.
The donations started with Alan Helfman donating boxes of high quality socks for our officers who were out there working in wet socks.
The HPOU began cooking for officers stranded at work and the Walmart in the Heights opened its doors only for police to get supplies. Charlene Floyd from the Police Foundation convinced the Walmart manager to allow her to purchase items for us as well.
As we began to run low on food, those 95 percent of all races who support the police sprang into action. We began receiving food from restaurants and people all over this great city.
Maggiano’s, Grotto’s, Gringo’s, Vic and Anthony’s, Liberty Kitchen, Katz Coffee, Becks Prime, Corkscrew BBQ, Fung’s Kitchen, Twin Peaks, Burger Joint, B & B, Oh My Pocket Pies, Pink’s Pizza, Subway, Carrabba’s and many other restaurants began coming to stations around Houston and the HPOU to feed our officers.
John Green from Ideallease provided a free refrigerated truck to keep food fresh. A gentleman by the name of Gavin Torabi and his friend Olga continuously brought food over from various restaurants. He also led up the meal for after Sgt. Perez’ funeral. Mr. Torabi was a vital part of our team. Brian Craft from Public Safety Financial and his amazing team paid for barbecue and grocery items.
Starbuck’s donated coffee and other items, but knocked it out of the park when they sent one of their employees, Jennifer Do and Dory Fung, her friend from Fung’s Kitchen, who arrived and literally took over the kitchen at the HPOU.
I’ve never seen two people arrive and take over so quickly as these two. They were extremely organized and could very politely tell us to get the hell out of their way!
When nighttime rolled around, I could always go home knowing things would go smoothly as soon as Sgt. Elaine Fremin arrived. She was invaluable!
Tilman Fertitta, Johnny Carrabba, Tammy Skinner from Kiolbassa Smoked Meats, along with the North America Director of Subway personally assured us that we would not go without food. They kept that promise!
Miller Uniforms’ Kyle Miller made two deliveries of HPD caps for officers to wear while working in grueling conditions. Galls Uniforms also stepped up and made contributions. Nicole Hare-Everline from Human Resources was able to get Kelsey-Seybold doctors and staff on site to see patients for free and give tetanus and hepatitis A shots.
I am so grateful for our relationship with all these great folks.
Whitney Merciless and Andre Johnson stopped by to show their support. Johnson brought an incredible meal he paid for from the Breakfast Klub. Reliant followed with 40 tickets and 20 parking passes to a Texans game.
Dana Tyson from Sunny 99.1 came by and thanked officers and then had food sent from Chick Fil A on Sawyer Street.
Michael Berry of KTRH came by and promoted Assisttheofficer.com on his show and the donations began coming in.
James Harden arrived and pledged support for officers.
Longtime Channel 13 (KTRK) anchor Dave Ward and his wife Laura addressed officers at the HPOU and thanked us for keeping their city safe. Laura also advised officers that her charity will provide mattresses to officers who lost their beds.
Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros stopped in and was followed by Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell. Twila Carter from the Astros then came by and donated hundreds of free tickets to upcoming Astros games.
A huge bus pulled in front of the HPOU and we were greeted by several members of the New York Mets who were in town to play the Astros. They didn’t just come by, but also put on aprons and served officers for nearly four hours.
Retired Assistant Chief Don McKinney arrived with his brother and a truckload of sleeping bags, air mattresses, supplies and more than 1,500 delicious sandwiches.
Pizza shops all around the HPOU delivered pizzas to our officers.
Mayor Sylvester Turner, Councilwoman Brenda Stardig, Councilman Mike Knox, and Councilman Jack Christie dropped by to pledge support from the Houston City Council. Dr. Christie then organized a group of chiropractors to come by each day to give free adjustments to officers, many of whom were admittedly doing “back-breaking jobs.”
Mike Knox organized the delivery of 1,000 sandwiches from Antoine’s.
An 18-wheeler pulled up loaded with supplies and water from out in the West Texas town of El Paso. A sign on the side of the truck said, “Houston Strong. El Paso Cares.”
Reading that resulted in me walking away with a lump in my throat. This would not be the last time that lump appeared.
A lady and her three young children arrived with bags of their toys and stuffed animals for kids who had been displaced. Sgt. Patrick Murray and his crew at Northeast dispersed them.
A lady with her windows down on her unairconditioned car drove up with a bag of clothes and some food she had made for officers. A little girl who lost her home spent three minutes with the Texas lieutenant governor at the GRB showing him how her new toy worked was a touching scene difficult to witness.
Box after box arrived here from all over this country with underwear, clothing, socks, gift cards, toiletries for our men and women.
Eric Hill from Withyou Ministries drove in from Georgia to help those with flooding in their homes and then delivered $2,000 in gift cards that his supporters contributed.
Two men, Jake and Mike, from Shield 616 drove from Colorado Springs, Colorado with a trailer loaded with supplies. They then spent three days here serving officers and even driving me down to Rockport and Aransas Pass to deliver generators to the officers in those devastated towns. A huge thanks to Lt. Thomas Hardin for assisting with the generators.
Our 24/7 prayer altar folks were here praying with officers around the clock.
A lady named Sharon drove in each day from Huntsville to serve our officers. After staying with us until the end, she then wrote at $2,000 check to Assist the Officer.
Sgt. Billy Bush met a man named Rob Helms who drove to Houston to assist after seeing the devastation. As he parted ways, he gave Sgt. Bush $1,000 for the wife of Sgt. Steve Perez.
Sharon and Bruce Stewart appeared out of thin air and worked tirelessly assisting in serving officers for many hours and for many days. We later found out they are assisting with a movie about PTSD called Stronger. They provided VIP tickets to the showing of the movie after things settled down to some of our chaplains and myself. The movie was outstanding.
Our friends in the media continued to promote Assisttheofficer.com and the checks continued to flow in.
The Dallas Police Association drove down with a $20,000 check. The Dallas Area Rapid Transit Police came down with around $1,500.
The Los Angeles School District Police flew down and delivered a check over $7,000 and presented the City of Houston and HPOU with a beautiful plaque.
Citizens mailed in checks of $10 and up and continue to contribute online.
Please tell anyone who asks that they can contribute at Assisttheofficer.com and 100 percent of all funds collected will be dispersed to first responders in Harris County who suffered severe damage to their homes.
Many, many members of the HPOU assisted our lead cooks Bobby Kessler, James Mushinski, Bill Booth and Tim Butler, making sure that no officer went hungry.
The department made sure support personnel were sent to the HPOU around the clock to assist with the feeding of officers.
Chief Acevedo, his EACs and ACs regularly checked in with us to make sure all was going well. They pledged any support needed and delivered!
Bob Barnard and the HPROA put out word that we needed help serving and retirees delivered, coming in at all hours to assist wherever they could. Dee Leal was here every day organizing volunteers and helping tremendously.
HPOU 1st Vice President Doug Griffith requested a dump truck to assist in rescues and Houston Public Works delivered.
HPOU 2nd Vice President Joe Gamaldi rarely left the HPOU the entire time, taking only a few hours to go home and visit his children, who were staying with his mom as his wife, also a police officer, was working around the clock as well.
HPOU 3rd Vice President Tom Hayes worked non-stop troubleshooting issues.
First Responder Benefit Trust’s Mike Mitchell did not go home for a week and, as of this writing, continues to stay at the HPOU as preparations were taking place to honor Sgt. Steve Perez.
Eight district attorney investigators from Baton Rouge drove in, slept on cots in our down room, and cooked jambalaya, gumbo and other Cajun dishes for our officers.
Neighbors walked food over to the HPOU and volunteered their services. Smoothie King arrived and doled out Smoothies to officers.
The nearby Trinity Lutheran Church allowed us to use their gym to create a makeshift store where officers could pick up needed items for free. Their incredible volunteers helped immensely.
Boy Scout Troop 1493 from Tomball delivered boxes of chocolates to officers to keep their energy up.
Sol Wellness Massage was at the HPOU daily giving free massages.
Barbers from the Willowbrook area came out and gave complimentary haircuts and shaves.
Senator John Whitmire, HPOU’s great friend and the dean of the Texas Senate, organized an appreciation luncheon for officers and the National Guardsmen who helped with rescues.
Political Consultant Gary Pearson dropped by to pledge his support to officers.
Operation BBQ Relief set up outside and assisting in feeding officers and citizens.
In the middle of all the storm, we could not lose focus on our fallen officer, Sgt. Steve Perez. We invited his wife and family to the HPOU to assist them with immediate expenses. William Skeen, the incoming Executive Director of the 100 Club delivered Mrs. Perez a check for immediate needs.
Angelica Marez from Del Angel Funeral Home, a Dignity company, donated all costs for Sgt Perez’ funeral.
I have no doubts that I have left many people out of this article who stepped up and did awesome things for our officers. If you are one of those people, please accept my apologies and my thanks. It was a major team effort by everyone who assisted.
HPOU Board Member Tim Whitaker, who was one who had catastrophic damage to his home and car, recently sent me this email:
After 2 weeks of watching the Houston Police Department shine like never before, I have a thought. I am thinking it was be very easy to say the dive team were the heroes, or the tact teams, or maybe SWAT, but that is not necessarily true.
I think the entire department should receive a commendation. I watched as the admin officers cleaned bathrooms, picked up trash, took in food and supplies. I watched as radio room guys not only catered to officers, they also took care of dozens of out of town officers as well as made sure the fleet stayed in service.
You guys, the exec staff of the HPOU working long hours making sure officers were fed, had clean socks, underwear, soap, toothbrushes, etc..
The Chief directing traffic, captains doing what needed to be done at every hour to make sure the mission was accomplished. The behind the scenes, the logistics of the last two weeks was amazing. None of the folks on patrol, fixed posts, and news “heroes” could have done their jobs without behind the scenes. The military estimates that for every guy on the line, there are 2 guys who work support.
There is no one hero, one division, or a small group of heroes. I was out there, I saw the entire Department shine. I saw the true meaning of “sacrifice” that the citizens will never understand. I have never been so proud to be a Houston Police Officer. I think every officer, PSO, jailer, civilian, mechanic, and housekeeper should be recognized for a JOB WELL DONE.
I concur with Tim. God bless each of you and I pray that those who had damage or losses will be assisted and be able to move forward as quickly as possible.
Thank you to everyone who got us through this!