As waters rose in Houston as a result of Hurricane Harvey, TV reporter Brandi Smith and her cameraman were reporting in the field when fellow employees back at KHOU 11 News headquarters evacuated to escape a flood on Sunday. The pair became the only team left on-air, but despite the challenging circumstances still came to the rescue of a stranded truck driver whose cab was nearly covered by water.
“The lights are going on this truck and the windshield wipers are going, and as we get a little closer it does look like there is someone inside,” Smith said in a video report showing the tractor-trailer stuck on flooded Beltway 8 in North Houston. “There is movement inside of this truck!”
According to reports, Hurricane Harvey has caused five deaths and 12 injuries across Texas and Louisiana since it made landfall on Friday. Almost 13 million people are under a flood watch and many have had to abandon vehicles to escape the dangerous waters.
When Smith noticed a man sitting in the cab of the truck, she urged him to resist climbing from the window of his 18-wheeler into the 10-foot-high water that continued to rise.
“Can you get to the top of your vehicle? Can you get to the top of your truck? Do not climb into the water!” Smith yelled.
Smith then noticed a passing Harris County Sheriff’s Office truck towing a boat. When she flagged down the deputies, they told her they were on their way to another rescue and had no idea there was a stranded truck driver below.
One of the officials told Smith that the man was in the same location where another driver had died during floods in April 2016.
“We had to dive for him because he passed away and went underwater,” the deputy said.
The officials quickly went to work, lowering their boat into the water in a matter of minutes.
“Sir, they’re putting the boat in just now! They are on their way!” Smith yelled to the driver.
The deputies placed a life preserver over the man after pulling him from the passenger-side window and into the boat. Viewers watching KHOU weren’t able to see the rescue as Smith had already been knocked off the air due to the evacuations.
“I cannot imagine how terrifying it would be to be in that place right now. Put yourself in that place: your car is filling with water. Help is on the way, he is incredibly lucky,” Smith told viewers in a video she later posted to Facebook.
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The truck driver, named Robert, greeted Smith when he made it to higher ground.
“I just thank God that you guys were right here to get me and put me back on land safely,” Robert told Smith. “I appreciate you.”