Mr. Speaker, today I salute the Houston Fire Department and Houston City Councilmember Brenda Stardig for their rescue efforts during Hurricane Harvey. In a move that can only be described as divine intervention, HFD’s new high water rescue vehicle was delivered only a few days before one of Texas’s most devastating storms rocked the state and dumped more than 50 inches of rain in the Houston area.
When Councilmember Stardig used her district’s discretionary funds to purchase the high water rescue vehicle for HFD she knew it was a much needed addition to the city’s rescue fleet; she just didn’t know how timely her purchase would be. Called the ‘‘High Five’’ because it is docked at HFD Station 5 in my congressional district, HFD’s high water rescue vehicle was the only high water rescue vehicle available exclusively to the city of Houston during the hurricane.
The ‘‘High Five’’ is a heavy duty military vehicle that can carry 15 people and two operators. Its electronics and fuel system are sealed, giving it the ability to transport in more than four feet of water.
Other vehicles like city garbage trucks were used for rescues, but this vehicle is unique because it is designed not only to go through high water but to also rescue people easily. For example, it has a lift on it to assist people in getting on board.
Mr. Speaker, even my jeep with its lift kit is no match for what this vehicle can do. It was estimated that in one day, over 400 people were rescued with this truck and possibly 1,000 people total.
Since the storm, HFD has received a surge of donations to continue to upgrade their rescue fleet. Councilmember Stardig and the Firefighters Foundation of Houston recently raised more than $52,000—enough for two additional rescue boats.
Since Harvey, private donors like HEB and Metro National have stepped up to help fund two additional high water rescue vehicles. Mr. Speaker, much of my district and the Houston area are still reeling from Harvey’s damage.
Much work remains to be done. It is heroes like Assistant Chief Ruy Lozano who oversees the HFD rescue fleet, HFD Chief Sam Pen˜a, and Houston City Councilmember Brenda Stardig who rose up during his catastrophe to save lives.
Many of us will remember their contributions to our community during this crisis. We always say, when Houstonians see a need they step up.
Sometimes it’s into a 10-foot high water rescue vehicle.
And that’s just the way it is.