When Evan Camp came out of his Eureka Heights Brew Co. office a little after opening time at 3 p.m. last Friday on West 18th Street, the brewery’s event manager was surprised to see a full house. When Camp asked what was going on, he got a ready answer.
They were all teachers.
That’s because a benevolent donor who wished to remain anonymous volunteered to pick up the tab for every Houston ISD employee to have two complimentary pints. The offer was valid all day last Friday, when HISD students and staff had off to recover from Tropical Storm Imelda.
“We didn’t expect it to be that big, but we were packed from the time we opened until the time we closed,” Camp said. “It was a massive success.”
In all, 225 beers were paid for by the donor. Camp said that because educators from other school districts reached out, the brewery also ponied up for $2 off each beer for them, too.
“We were very happy to do that,” Camp said. “It was quite a nice feeling to have that sense of community for the day.”
The sense that Houstonians are all in it together was immediately apparent when the rain started pouring down the morning of Sept. 19. Garden Oaks resident Mike Gross helped rescue 94-year-old Frances Bohlae from a flooded home on Judiway Street, Eric Brown helped rescue a man trapped in a culvert along T.C. Jester Boulevard and a group of Mangum Manor residents spent the following morning picking up storm debris near Scarborough High School.
For Liberty Hoepfl Garage co-owner Kathryn van der Pol, who was stranded at Slowpokes on Alba Road at noon Sept. 19, the need to help was immediate – especially after she heard from friend Naro Mak at Hartz Krispy Chicken Buffet on Pinemont Drive that there was a 200-person catering order at the restaurant that was not going to be delivered.
“I called the shop and my husband said he would come get me in the bus,” van der Pol wrote in a letter to The Leader. “About 15 minutes later (it) arrived to the amazement of all the other customers.”
After an arduous journey to get to Hartz, the van der Pols delivered free meals to their employees and to others stranded on North Shepherd Drive at Wabash Feed & Garden, Frost Bank and the 911 Emergency Center.
Mak and Hartz employee Michael Deatherage also made their way through the water to the businesses in their area and delivered meals to those stranded in the surrounding parking lot.
“It was raining pretty hard,” Deatherage said. “(Recipients) were all just, ‘Thank you’ and ‘Have a blessed day.’”
The day was particularly stressful for HISD teachers, including those at Durham Elementary. Although all the school’s classrooms were not flooded, the exterior walkways of the campus took on water – so teachers did what teachers do. They got their feet wet so their students could stay dry.
In recognition of that fact, Durham’s parents did a Facebook fundraising campaign to replace the teacher’s ruined shoes. According to parent Laura Tracy, it raised more than $4,000 in four hours.
“We had parents, community members and teachers from other schools give,” Tracy said. “People were so supportive and thanked us for taking care of our teachers.”
Tracy said DSW gift cards will be distributed to teachers and the excess funds will be used to purchase Academy gift cards for students identified by the school who lost their only pair of school shoes during their walk home on the day it flooded.
Two business owners who continue to be held up by the community are MOVE Yoga’s Carissa Barcus and Mynette Murtagh Randall. Their studio, which recently opened on Judiway Street, took on more than six inches of water.
Randall said she was teaching a class when the rain started.
“Initially I was putting the blankets and bolsters to keep the water out,” Randall said.
That effort soon proved futile, and Randall and her four students were stranded until Jennifer Clements, who owns Montrose Yoga Coop, and husband Glenn came to rescue them in a high-water vehicle.
As MOVE Yoga did not have flood insurance, Barcus and Randall are responsible for the roughly $12,000 price tag. The unanticipated blessing is that their yoga family has stepped up to assist them.
Client Monica Danna-Garcia started an online fundraising campaign that had raised more than $8,000 as of Tuesday. MOVE Yoga is still having classes, hosted by their friends, including Brush & Bobby Salon, HTX FightCamp and Bike Barn. Regular clients can come as can anyone who wants to make a donation toward the studio’s repairs.
A lemonade stand organized and staffed by the studio’s clients, both young and old, raised $636. One man paid $110 for two glasses of lemonade.
“Miss Mynette and Miss Carissa were just devastated so we wanted to help out obviously,” said Oak Forest Elementary student Findley Eaton. “Because that’s just what you do for friends and family.”
Randall said she’s been crying a lot, but now they are happy tears.
“It could have been worse and we’ve had so much help,” Randall said. “It has shown us so much about the community we are building here and it is a lesson in surrender.”