Sean Lowe Details 'Heartbreaking' Devastation He Witnessed from Hurricane Harvey & the Moment He'll 'Never Forget'
The Dallas native opens up to PEOPLE about the tragedy he witnessed in Houston — and why he feels compelled to return
On Sunday, the Texas native was watching television at his home in Dallas when he sprang into action after seeing news coverage of Hurricane Harvey, which has left millions of people to battle catastrophic flooding.
“Sunday was just a normal Sunday for us and I was watching some of the news coverage at home and then I started thinking about how Game of Thrones, the season finale was going to air that night. I was kind of excited for Game of Thrones and then I went back to watch the news coverage and I thought You know what, this isn’t right. I’m getting excited about watching this TV show when all these people are losing their homes,” Lowe, 33, tells PEOPLE. “At that moment I just said I’m going to try to figure something out and I tweeted out if anyone had a boat.”
That same day, Lowe picked up a boat from a woman who offered hers to the Bachelor alum. He departed for the Houston area, but was forced to sleep at a gas station overnight before making it Monday to Katy, Texas, where he teamed up with his father’s friend. “A lot of Katy is under water, so that’s where we spent our day and we teamed up with some firefighters who were so happy to see an extra boat, because they desperately needed it,” says Lowe. “We spent our day trying to collect as many people as we possibly could.”
With a team of firefighters on board, the duo navigated the boat throughout Katy, helping anyone they could along the way. He says there’s one specific moment from his day that he won’t ever be able to shake.
“We were taking our boat down a residential street, which is kind of an eerie feeling on its own, and in the distance we saw people yelling out to us — we had a couple firefighters with us at the time — and they’re yelling and screaming and we can see that they’re giving chest compression to somebody in a canoe,” Lowe shares.
The boat was too big to make it to the canoe, so a few men rushed down the street “as fast as they possibly could” to provide assistance. Upon arrival, they found a man who “was probably in his late 30s who was in cardiac arrest.”
“His face was blue as blue gets and his heart was not beating and we had to transfer him from this canoe into our boat,” says Lowe. “The whole thing was surreal because I was literally just holding dead weight; he was a dead man at the time. The firefighters proceeded to give him CPR for about 15 minutes until we could get him into an ambulance. I don’t know if he survived. Last time I heard, the paramedics were able to get a pulse, but I don’t know if he pulled through or not. I pray that he did. But that was just one of those moments I will never forget.”
“You just hear all these stories of pregnant women and elderly who can’t move — it’s really heartbreaking,” he adds.
Lowe is now back home in Dallas with his wife, Catherine, and their 1-year-old son, Samuel, but on Thursday morning, he’s making the four-hour drive back to the Houston area, where he will team up again with his father’s friend and stay for a few days to help those in need.
“I told Catherine when I went down there the first time I was just going to be gone a day because I wanted to lend a helping hand and do my part and I was kind of amazed when I got back at the feeling that I had. I thought that I would be satisfied — I did my part,” says Lowe. “But I just got back home and I kept telling Catherine, ‘I need to be back down there because they still need help.’ So since then I’ve been trying to coordinate everything and finally work out all the details where I can leave tomorrow morning and hopefully I’ll be down there for a few days.”
“This next trip’s kind of open-ended on my end,” he explains. “I’m just going to try to help as much as I can and I’ll figure it out along the way.”
During this difficult time, Lowe has been leaning on his faith. “You want to pray for the people of Houston and there is power in prayer — there’s no doubt about that,” he shares. “Part of our faith is helping others, so I’m glad I have the chance to do that.”
WATCH: Hurricane Harvey: Before and After Footage Shows Damage to Houston
Though Lowe witnessed an overwhelming amount of tragedy in Katy, he feels encouraged by the many volunteers who are helping those affected by the storm.
“I just knew I needed to go down there and help my fellow Texans and do whatever I can. It was so encouraging to get down there and see people from all over the state of Texas. I’ve heard that many other people are coming in from other states — I don’t want to just say it was Texans. But it’s really cool because we do have that state pride and strangers helping strangers,” he says. “There’s something really beautiful about that and I’m just glad I was able to play a small part.”
He is also imploring people nationwide to extend their support in any way they can.
“Just because you can’t get to Houston, you can help in so many ways and I think it’s appreciated so much by everybody down there,” he says.” Every little bit helps. If you want to text the Red Cross for $10 or whatever it is, I know it’s appreciated.”