When help arrived at a storm shelter in Rockport, Texas, on Saturday, to help residents affected by Hurricane Harvey, they were stunned to find out the person in charge was a 29-year-old man with no medical expertise.
Screenwriter Zachary Dearing had moved to Rockport from Lexington, Kentucky, just three months ago to live with his father, a cancer survivor, according to Reuters. He went to a shelter on Friday ahead of the devastating storm.
After realizing that there were no supplies or management at the shelter, he stepped up to the task to help the most vulnerable citizens.
As the Texas Emergency Medical Task Force arrived and asked who was running the shelter, everyone pointed to Dearing, who was able to update them on the situation, according to the news outlet.
The shelter had 126 people at last headcount, six were medically fragile, four needed oxygen and two needed hospice care.
Dearing was able to recruit 15 volunteers — most under the age of 21 — who he assigned to 30-minute shifts. Together, they got people in the shelter to pull food and water and plug leaks from the incoming rain.
“That guy is a hometown hero — he pulled it off,” Carlos Alarcon of the state medical task force told Reuters. “That’s my definition of a hero — when someone does something out of the ordinary to help other people.”
Dearing — whose father had evacuated to Houston — decided to leave too late and found himself stuck in Rockport. When he arrived at the school, which was being used as a shelter, he started organizing people to raid classrooms to find trash cans, hand sanitizer and rugs for people to sleep on.
“We pooled resources the best we could,” he told the news outlet. “The city named this as a shelter but did nothing to organize it.”
When two police officers arrived to help, one told Dearing: “It looks like you have a system here; just tell us where you need us.”
Dearing added: “It was a weird feeling — I didn’t realize I had taken control.”