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Everyday People Become Extraordinary Heroes
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Michelle Tanner
 
July 2, 2007

When 13-year-old Oliver Luero went to sleep Sunday night, June 17, 2019, he was excited about an upcoming trip to Mexico. Shortly after midnight, Oliver's excitement turned to sheer terror as torrential rains and dangerous lightening battered his Haltom City, TX home. Whites Branch Creek, which runs behind this quiet neighborhood just north of Fort Worth, erupted in a way that no one expected.

Hundreds of homes were swept from their foundations  turning lives upside down.  Photo Credit:  Michelle Tanner/American Red Cross
Hundreds of homes were swept from their foundations turning lives upside down.
Photo Credit: Michelle Tanner/American Red Cross

Oliver Luero shows a Red Cross worker how high the water rose in his home.  Photo Credit:  Michelle Tanner/American Red Cross
Oliver Luero shows a Red Cross worker how high the water rose in his home.
Photo Credit: Michelle Tanner/American Red Cross

Rain at the rate of 4.5 inches per hour turned this peaceful creek into a raging river, sweeping away homes, personal affects, people and pets. Oliver watched in shock as his grandmother's mobile home was lifted off its supports and began floating down the creek.

He immediately ran to the back of the home to alert her of the danger. As the mobile home crashed through the trees, they were able to escape from the home as it broke apart. Oliver grabbed his grandmother and forced her into a tree. A few feet away, he grabbed onto some branches and managed to pull himself into that tree. For two hours, Oliver and his grandmother clung to the trees that ultimately saved their lives. If Oliver had not acted so quickly, his grandmother would not be alive today.

Battered, bruised and shaken, Oliver tells us that not only did his grandmother lose her home, but his parents also lost their home and now they are all living with relatives.

They lost their international travel documents in the flood, so they had to cancel their trip to Mexico.

But Oliver wasn't the only hero in his family. He tells us his sister saw a baby in the water and picked her up to bring her to safety. They had not seen the baby before, but it turns out it was a newborn of one of the families living in the neighborhood.

As Red Cross workers, we hear many stories of neighbors helping neighbors, families helping families. Initially, effort went towards staying alive as the water rose quickly and without warning. Now, as we enter the cleanup phase in this multi-generational neighborhood, we see neighbors checking on each other, helping to remove the debris from the yards and homes and just providing comfort to each other as they strive to recover.

The American Red Cross has helped these everyday people who became extraordinary heroes with shelter for those who lost their homes, food to eat, plenty of bottled water and clean-up supplies. Because they must find a new place to live, the Red Cross also helped with emergency assistance to get them into new living quarters as soon as possible. Today, we don't know what will happen to every family as some will have to leave this friendly community, but all have expressed their gratitude that the American Red Cross seemingly showed up out of nowhere and hasn't left their side. Nor will we. The American Red Cross is committed to helping all flood victims who need our help.

All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to victims of disaster. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster, please do so at the time of your donation. Call 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.



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